Saturday, June 6, 2015

Travelogue: Lightning in a Bottle, Part 1

What: An Art and Music Festival with a New Age Twist
Where: Bradley, CA
When: Friday, May 22nd to Monday, May 25th
With Whom: my friend Ashley and her boyfriend Matt

Part 1: The Landscape

A bit north of San Luis Obispo, Bradley, CA sits like a hermit on its porch.

Dusty hills are brushed with yellow grass and a few trees--I want to say olive--and what seems to be wild mustard: bushels of thin, tall stems topped with careening yellow flower heads. At midday, the temperatures grow pretty damn hot and windy, and the dust (or playa sand, as my friends called it) digs deep into our noses. At night it gets cold--not unbearably cold, but cold enough to want a good jacket and sock-covered toes.

I can't imagine that predators roam the land, or wooden signs would have warned us against leaving wrappers still rank with chocolate and sweet soda-stained bottles in open trash bags just outside the tent. At one point, Matt offers a piece of neon orange cracker to a little gray ground squirrel; but it rejects his offer and eats a grasshopper instead.

On the outskirts lay the parking lots, and further in, the camps. Dirt roads with names like Croatia and Monkey Business criss-cross the camp, plowing up and down the rocky ravines. Once inside the central festival area, long plywood bridges aid the roads across the hills.

(The first time I cross a bridge, I worry it will break. So many people cross, we could be a parade. But the bridge endures, and we walk one lane coming to and another going fro, giving high-fives to each other as we pass.)

In my mind, I divide the festival into three areas, each one anchored by a long hill.

To the west, Party Hill splays out like a toad about to leap. The jewel of this hill is the Lightning Stage, characterized by white laundry sheets that flutter like seagulls in the daylight and reflect beams of neon lights at night. It's envious brother, Thunder Stage, competes to see which can strum the bass harder. Between the two lies the Pagoda Bar--a punched-out top hat of red and yellow stripes--and four steampunk teapot towers. One tea pot is rigged with a lantern that shoots darts of color, while the others house a permeant occupancy of snoozing guests.

Hippie Hill slouches in the middle. It boasts the Om Yoga Stage, the Temple of Consciousness,  and the Village. When I wander, I find plaster white faces on gnarled, moss-covered stumps turned inward toward a shrine. The chief plaster face has a vertebrae of bones and hovers over a twisted tree laden with offerings of crystals, melted candles, and a dead bat on a piece of shell. Elsewhere, one little Buddha sits on a labyrinth of rocks and another is nailed to a tree, a broken folding fan as wings. In the shade of a small tent, people lay on the ground to experience the healing vibrations of a giant gong.

Artsy Hill nudges Hippie Hill to the east. Canvases line the lone, green lawn, and artists stand in the shade with their palettes and brushes. Further down, beats pour off the Woogie Stage, dancers swaying under giant blue Morning Glories. A colossal Russian nesting doll watches in mournful silence.

* * *
To Be Continued...

1 comment:

  1. This is an exotic place!! That sculpture is looking so lovely. I am pleased to know that a music event had been organized at this wonderful location. In my opinion these kinds of venues for events make events more special. Isn’t that true?