September 23, 2010

My Name is Special Ed and I'm a Super-Duper Star

The Magnificent

I'm your idol the highest title numero uno
I'm not a Puerto Rican but I'm speakin so that you know
and understand I got the gift of speech
and it's a blessin so listen to the lesson I preach

The program for the 25th Anniversary Stoweflake Hot Air Balloon Festival clearly indicated that Special Ed would be performing at 5:00 PM, a couple of hours before the balloons were scheduled to launch.

I talk sense condensed into the form of a poem
full of knowledge from my toes to the top of my dome
I'm kinda young but my tongue speaks maturity
I'm not a child I don't need nothin for security


As a fan of Special Ed from way back--during a brief late-80's-to-early-90's Yo! MTV Raps obsession--I was quite excited about this.  I was also intrigued and slightly concerned that Special Ed was now performing at family-oriented balloon festivals in Vermont.  What happened, Special Ed?  You used to be my idol, the highest title, numero uno

I'm outspoken--my language is broken into a slang
but it's just a dialect that I select when I hang
I play it cool--cuz coolin is all that I'm about
just foolin wit tha girlies, yes I'm bustin it out

We arrived after 5 PM and heard music playing from inside the beer and music that was decidedly not Special Ed.  The opener perhaps? 

My name is Special Ed and I'm a super-duper star
every other week I get a brand new car
Got twenty, that's plenty yet I still want more
kinda fond of honda scooters--got seventy-four

Upon closer inspection, we realized that this was an entirely different Special Ed altogether--a local band that played lame covers.  In other words, not special at all.  

I got the riches--to fulfill my needs
got land in the sand of the West Indies
even got a little island of my very own--
I gotta frog--a dog with a solid gold bone

Well, at least the balloons lived up to their billing in the program and, in spite of the initial disappointment, LSB and I had a enjoyable evening with the M's of VT. 

Though, as evening approached and we watched the beautiful balloons rise and fall, I couldn't help thinking that they would have gone a little higher and their colors would have looked a bit brighter if the scene were set to the soundtrack of my poser, hip hop childhood...

I'm kinda spoiled
cuz everything I want I got made
I wanted gear--got everything from cotton to suede
I wanted lead--I didn't beg I just got laid
My hair was growin too long, so I got me a fade
and when my dishes got dirty, I got Cascade
when the weather was hot, I got a spot in the shade
I'm wise because I rise to the top of my grade
wanted peace on Earth, so to God I prayed
Some kids across town thought I was afraid
they couldn't harm me--
I got the army brigade
I'm not a trader
if what you got is greater I'll trade
but maybe later cuz my waiter made potato -n- alligator souflee--

I got it made

September 02, 2010

Mark Valley, On The Wrong Side of History (or War is Heck)


The city of Ogdensburg in Northern New York (simply referred to as "the city" in these parts, or "New York's Best Kept Secret!") sits on the banks of the St. Lawrence River.  Once a vital port in the early American (and Canadian) fur trade and the site of important battles in the French and Indian War, American Revolution, and the War of 1812--it is now a bit rough around the edges...and, as I understand it, some places in the middle.  

French reinforcements

It was home to a French fort--known as Fort de La PrĂ©sentation--before the British came and destroyed it; then it was home to a British fort (Fort Oswegatchie).  A century or so later, it was the birthplace and childhood home of television star Mark Valley.  Recently, it hosted an historical reenactment of the famous battle in the French and Indian War, starring Mark Valley!  Which brings me to today's post.

Faux indians

I'm not a fan of war, but masses of people dressed in historical garb pretending to kill each other seemed like a perfect summer excursion in the North Country.  Also, there was quite a bit of hoopla in the NoCo leading up to the weekend, as Our Hero appeared on a national late night talk show and mistakenly referred to it as a War of 1812 reenactment.  Outrage!

The water battle

So, we headed North from Potsdam and arrived a bit late for the water battle, an impressive spectacle of replica boats firing blank rounds at each other from cannons and muskets.  After a few minutes of action we received word that the land battle was set to begin. 

 Modern day NoCo punks take pot-shots at the French

We stood with the other spectators and watched from behind the French (and Indian) troops with their floppy red hats (and mohawks and war paint), who did not yet know that they were badly outnumbered by the approaching, more sharply dressed, British.  Well, at least the reenactors were acting like they didn't know that they were overmatched, but I'm sure they were informed of the impending final outcome through their pre-reenactment rehearsals or personal research on Wikipedia. 

Victory/defeat is nigh

Watching the ill-fated French reenactors brought to mind the Washington Generals, the team that is repeatedly (and, presumably, knowingly) embarrased by the Harlam Globe Trotters in every "game."  What type of person volunteers to join the pre-destined losing team?  I mean, I'm sure that they're in it for the thrill of the battle and all the historical trappings, but I wonder whether they ever consider throwing the reenactment--not falling to the ground in pretend agony at the appointed time and, instead, fighting on in an endless fake war.  A rogue reenactor--that would be something to see. 

 Mark Valley, a friend to the wounded

The land battle had a narrator--a man in historical dress who tried to explain what was happening, outlining the strategies employed by each side while making the occasional corny joke.  Through the PA system, he told us about how the British were outflanking the French (Team Valley) and that this was bad news for Les Bleus.  

How do you say "outflanked" in French?  They must have a word for it.

The battle went on for 15-30 minutes and many shots were fired by both sides before anyone fake-died.  Our narrator explained that this was due to the inaccuracy of the firearms at that point in history, but I suspect an alternative explanation related to more modern times.  If you signed up to be a reenactor, bought (or rented?) the proper historical clothing, practiced your role, traveled from Ohio, Tennesee, or Quebec; and gave up your weekend for the battle; would you want to die within the first 15 minutes?  I imagine that there must be some sort of unwritten rule of historical reenactments that states that the first 30 minutes is a safe period where the fake bullets all miraculously miss their targets.

Our hero (in bleu) readying his digital camera

Eventually, the bodies started to pile up and the French were retreating with the afternoon sun.  When the battle had ended, Mark Valley took up position in the French camp, signing autographs for a small line of fans and/or Francophiles. 


War is hell.  Fake war is kind of fun. 

Unwinding from the battle in the British camp