We just arrived back--days early, for various reasons--from a short vacation. At the moment, I'm a little dazed, but I promise a post about something substantive tomorrow.
Meanwhile, take a look at these fine pictures of the annual Fire Arts Festival put on by The Crucible in Oakland, California. Some friends dragged us along (we'd already seen The Crucible's astonishing production of Stravinsky's Firebird earlier this year), and the Festival was a truly mind-altering experience.
All of us like to play with fire, right? Chimps and parrots can use language, any number of animals use tools, but fire...now there's a primal, uniquely human trip.
The Fire Arts Festival covers acres with flaming art pieces, gargantuan Tesla coils, and live performances. The whole affair is right at the edge of danger: a gazillion volts of crackling blue arm-thick lightning shooting from a car-sized discharge coil to a man in a tin-woodsman outfit, a thirty-foot-high flame tornado twisting up into the night sky, or a gout of flame rushing up through a 300-pound block of ice--everything about it feels uneasily out of control yet pulls you closer.
Toward the climax of the evening, some fire artists dragged in an upright jet turbine, and started it whining...whining...whining, the pitch rising until people clamped their hands over their ears, and at last a spout of flame shot skywards and everyone backed away. And then backed away even further, and then sort of stumbled into retreat before the raw intensity of the heat. Even fifty feet away, it was barely tolerable. I've been at an active volcanic eruption where it poured into the sea; this is the only heat I've ever felt that compared to living lava.
Some people, of course, are too mature to amuse themselves by watching people play with matches. For those folks, the amazingly sexy, in-your-face dance troupe The Nekyia are always on hand, en masse or in twos and threes...
Did we have a good time?
Does the Pope wear a hat that looks like the space shuttle?