Sturm und Drunk

March, 2014

Waking from a deep sleep, I found my moist self - uncomfortable, feeling arrogant, and shuffling slowly forward in a queue of about two hundred people toward the Auckland Beer Festival, high in the Cloud, and in the midst of a cyclone.

In this crowd were the usual expected costumes. A tall Clone Trooper with cutout, aluminium logos of his favourite beer brands glued to his helmet.  A gaggle of pre-loaded princesses, stoic men with hairy necks in black singlets and gumboots, various Oktoberfest style Lederhosen-laden girls and boys, and inexplicably, a troupe celebrating the Mexican Day of the Dead.

I’m not here. I’m not here.

We were all weighed up by rows of steel tubing, searched, given a plastic cup and permitted entrance. Once inside we could see the space was mixed, and there were two main areas, one for major brewery beers, food stalls and a VIP area, and the other - a warehouse of two levels, which was for smaller brands, a stage, and more food stalls. 

Outside and in between these two spaces I found transient people seeking refuge from both types, all the time being swayed by the beer and the constant wind.

Out here one of the groups of black-shirted-gumbooted-stag-doers shielded their friend - a miserable bastard in pink hot pants, a tight pink mesh vest, and a toy guitar, who was singing for a dare. It didn’t take long for a crowd to form around him, and most seemed to be enjoying the spectacle. This drew attention from security, and a man in a policeman’s costume, moustached and smirking, forcibly removed pink-hot-pants from the premises, along with his objecting friends.

We looked around for more entertainment. On the upper level of the warehouse area, another man was singing, similarly and presumably for a dare from a long time ago. He had a whole stage available for his performance, was sound checked and slippery, and was surprisingly similiarly dressed to pink-hot-pants. A friend of mine pointed out he was the first man he had seen with a large camel toe. Camel-toe-man had all the charm and showmanship of a part time karaoke singer, and was strutting his stuff on stage, with plenty more spectators taking part, swaying in time to his various lunge-urges.

I’m fairly sure neither of the men were creating any harm, pain, or suffering to any person witnessing. It seemed that for most around me they created a feeling of camaraderie and joy in their peculiar performances. They made pleasant eddies in the chaotic flow of the liquored people around them, happy attractors in the soup.

Both had a toy language available to them, and they used it well.

Beer stopped flowing at 8pm, probably to allow the dissonant waves and flotsam to subside back into the wash of the usual waterfront crowd, and to prevent any overly tall peaks from leaving marks on the nice new buildings. We decided leaving early was a really good option to avoid potential violence.

So we left early, and ended up at Daikoku ramen. We ordered some things and had a pretty good meal. A group of drunk people were sitting across from us, and engaging with the waitress in another kind of toy language, this time Pidgin Japanese. They were able to count through some numbers like 1, 2, 3, and 4, but not as high as 5. They also could say things like THANK YOU! and BEER!  My partner’s brother overheard the waitress talking about how she hated working at the place, understanding Japanese himself. He also said, ‘I don’t like her attitude’.

Maybe he didn’t understand her suffering.

What effect did all this toy language usage have on the surroundings? 

I will consider my actions, and try to prevent pain, suffering, and harm to others.

On the other hand, the actions I have in preventing suffering are limited by my social status, my costume, but also my courage.

We are limited by our perception of time, and inevitably, there is a longing for experiences and worlds we cannot possibly explore in what we each call reality. Through this simple language play it allows us to pretend for the moment we are the other - the busker, the rock star, the linguist. It’s just as important to think about the effect these simplifications have, and how we can use them courageously in the thick, fatty soup.

Yume Nikki Status: 8 Artifacts - Lost in the Teleport Zone. 

Phil James
TAGGED IN Writing, Journal