Remortance, Revisited

or, This age hits home.

"Death. It's not so bad. It beats the alternative." -- Unknown

This year has been quite the year, it would seem. Most of you are familiar with the events which have inundated the world, the Nation, and California in particular. This piece addresses something a little closer to home.

A long running tradition, the Northern Renaissance Pleasure Faire, has closed its doors, much to the dismay of a good many of us. I was a visitor there in 1980 and 1981, and I became a participant in 1985, recruited into the Guild of St. Patrick, the Wild Irish. I owe my prowess on the mandolin and the guitar to this induction.

Like others, I made many friends there and have had the misfortune to lose at least one of them to the faded pall and the black shroud of Death himself. Like others, I wandered through several loves there, only to eventually wander out of them again. Like others, I have helped raise children there.

I will never forget the first threat of losing Black Point, watching RPFN go from the elder Pattersons to be bought by the Renaissance Entertainment Corporation. I will never forget the second attempt on Black Point, which ultimately succeeded after a lengthy battle.

I remember turning my back for ten seconds in front of New Irish Camp, and turning around again only to see someone hauling my baby girl out of the Washing Well (how DID she get there that fast!?).

...and we still have the flower wreaths, complete with ribbons, given to the girls in 1997.

Losing Black Point in 1998 was devastating; to hear that the Northern Faire has closed is a duller pain, but it is still there.

The friend of a friend has summed it all up well, and I shall include her missive here (with some formatting liberties):

"There was a time when the Faire was rich and alive
With demi-gods who swaggered through the crowds,
Plucking moments in time and making magic.
Their names were legend...St. Germaine, Kahn, Perry, Zepeda, Hall, Moore, Springhorn, Morales,
And the world was ripe with gigs.

The crowds were alive with eager hearts and minds
Hoping for a chance to make the dream come alive.
And we were all there to help them along.
Some of us sang,
Some of us brought the crowd to their knees with laughter,
Some of us just added amazing color and beauty to the background,
And some of us just stank to high heaven, but that was ok too....

We all were alive and insane!
The gig was all that mattered, not the politics, or the money or whatever.
We would have plucked out our eyes
Rather than break BFA, use an anachronism or
Wear something that was not allowed.
We were possessed with a need to create a world
Where we could gorge ourselves with ripe possibilities
For new and exciting things to do.
We were careless then. Like a kid in a candy store,
We would stuff ourselves and move on as if it would last

Then, something happened.

Perhaps we got bored or burnt out.
Perhaps we had our hearts broken one too many times, or
We started to let the "real" world in.
We got greedy, we got mean,
We started treating each other like the enemy
Or at least someone to keep a guarded watch on.
We put ourselves first.
We got lazy and made excuses,
And we let the show go...

Some of us went away,
Some of us passed on to a better place,
Some of us came every weekend
But just "phoned it in".

I am just wondering if maybe it is time to just
Let this all go.

My wish is that there will, once again, be a place
Where Bruno dance and girls run by, giggling and winking.
I dream of a place where there is music again in the streets,
And people laugh and greet each other with the fever of old friends
Meeting after a long absence and desperately missing each other.

I am tired of Patterson vs REC, of all the politics,
Of the drama and anger and angst and death and sadness.

I miss old friends who are gone and will never come back,
I miss old friends that stay away for stupid reasons
That really don't matter anymore.

Some of us will cry, some of us will get mad,
Some of us will say "ah ha! We've won!" or "I told you so",
And some of us will hold onto some meek hope that
Somehow it will all be like some weird dream where
"Bobby" isn't really dead, but just taking a shower
And this last year really didn't happen
(obscure Dallas reference-sorry-I'm an old broad, humor me)
And there will be a Northern next year.

I propose that, instead,
We try to get together whenever we can
And remember when it was good.
When we loved it and it wasn't some odd private D&D game
And audience-be-damned.

When my father died,
I built a new family from the people I knew at Faire.
They have (for better or worse) been in my life
And I have loved/hated/fought/shared a laugh/shared a drink/shared a life with them all.
I met and married my husband,
Felt the joy when dear friends got married,
Felt the pain when they divorced,
Brought my son here to grow up from a grub to a wonderful little boy,
Cried when friends died. Jocelyn, Larry, Damien, Am.
I will now have to make a life where something else defines me.
This is an odd thing for me.

No matter what else happens, keep the stories alive
And wherever you go, try to make the magic.

My hope is that we will meet again soon-

Sandra Cadell

Running events in life are very much like a school, I note. After the last day of being in school -- not just for the Summer -- you wake up and wonder, "Gods, what now?". Everything changes. Everything you have taken for granted over the last N years is gone, and no matter how much you may have tried not to take it for granted, you did anyway.

And it's all right if that happens after a fashion. We are all mortal.

Let us all meet again, soon and relatively often -- we from the Renaissance Faire, we from the College, we from the innocence of the neighbourhoods of our past.

Interestingly enough, we will probably find that we're not all that different than we used to be, and it will be this which will keep us all connected.

Memories are life. Pass them on. Bright blessings have visited those who have played. May they continue to visit us, and those who have yet to play.


Welcome to the Remortance

or, "I didn't think time could go backwards."

"What did I know? Those days are gone forever, I should just let 'em go."
-- Don Henley, "The Boys Of Summer"

"Alas, poor Yorick; I knew him...well..."
-- John McDill as Captain Hook in "Peter Pan"

What a time it was. Learning became available beyond the monasteries, trade flourished (pirates notwithstanding), artisanry abounded, music and dance came to represent life, and morale had never been higher.

I speak, of course, of the Renaissance. The more astute of you will query, "Which one?"

Good question, for we have had several in the history of this great planet. The first Renaissance began in Europe -- specifically in Italy, somewhere around the latter half of the fifteenth century, carrying forward and flowing outward to the borders of Europe and farther, covering France, Greece, Basque, Prussia, Spain, Holland, Ireland and, at long last, England. For various reasons, I am convinced that England was the distant last to become overwhelmed by the phenomenon which was to be the Renaissance -- the joys of which were over all too soon, thanks both to Elizabeth Tudor's stranglehold on Ireland and to her demise, which left many issues in Ireland unresolved.

There are also probably far too many countries left unnamed above. But I digress.

After the first Renaissance in Europe, the world would never be quite the same, although it would not find a true glow again until sometime in the nineteenth century, when an upsurge of creativity happened again during the Industrial Revolution. This Renaissance period would last until its death in 1929, when the Stock Market crashed quickly, suddenly, taking untold fortunes with it. Castles in the sand, and all that.

The third Renaissance would have to have been the 1960s -- still more creativity, more exploration, more music, more art, more expression, and we *still* got a man on the moon in spite of it all. The third Renaissance ended, near as I can tell, somewhere in the mid 1980s.

The fourth Renaissance to date was the Technological Revolution, and some might even say it was riding on the wave of its predecessor. I'd say it was intermingled with the third one, to be sure, but it was under its own power.

The next Renaissance has yet to happen. I'll be quite surprised if it happens in my lifetime, as the thumbscrews which have been emplaced after every outbreak of creativity, expression, outrage against authority, life, for heaven's sake! have been tightened down. We have been encumbered with more rules, regulations, laws, decrees, taxes, fees, policies, acts and constitutional amendments, all supposedly for the good of the people. This is also not to mention the amazing growth of litigation over creativity.

Oh, wait -- you're reading this. I must be preaching to the choir here.

The aforementioned outstretches of the human(oid) mind and spirit have been met with such amazingly hostile repressions of late that I fear we are in for a tragic reversal of events. True, our accomplishments cannot be taken from us, but we will be forced to rest on our laurels unless we can find a way to grow from beneath this ground cover under which we now find ourselves.

Music is meant to be enjoyed, and the people who make music should surely be paid for it, but the Recording Industry of America is ensuring that they get their percentage off the top, even if the musician must then pay the RIAA. This is an insult to the integrity of music, as much of it that remains, anyway. Several musicians have decided that sharing music is the best incentive for getting people to buy it. But the RIAA is probably searching for a way to circumvent this.

Of late, the Motion Picture Academy of America has voted not to accept for nominations movies which are sent directly to Academy members. This is going to severely restrict the exposure which independent filmmakers get.

Also of late, we in California have been unfortunate to acquire yet another actor in the position of Gubernatorial Marionette. And, of course, a Good Ol' Boy, in the political sense.

Do we see a trend here? The status quo is not going away, in spite of our best efforts, because the status quo keeps changing the rules by which they play. This leaves the rest of the people at a disadvantage.

Of course, if the boat starts rocking too much, it won't take too much more to help tip it over. The timing would be critical, though.

Yes, this is rambling. I apologise.

To go back to the Renaissance, though, something to take into account:
How much of the innovation, invention, exploration, creation of all that was would have come about had there always been such creatures as, say, patent lawyers hanging around?

Think about it. The patent process is heinous. Creativity has always been borne of improvements upon existing processes or machines. Hell, if the patent laws had been around at the time of Leonardo da Vinci (and carried forward), how much innovation would have been completed?

The current copyright laws (and resultant licensing agreements) are as horrid (look them up -- they're nasty). Michelangelo could have probably gone after a number of artists for painting in a similar style as he. By current laws, his family/estate could have gone after them for eighty years after his death.

If pro is the opposite of con, what is the opposite of congress?

I think it's ironic, incidentally, that the mechanisms of political interaction have outlived the mechanisms of social interaction. Socially, we've gone backwards. We entered a brief period of civilisation in which we actually learned to say hello to one another, and over the last thirty or so years, we seem to have forgotten it completely.

Music has gone dark. The arts and entertainment are attainable by and large only by the wealthy. Education, likewise. More people are working longer for less, and the price of living continues to rise. We have a cadre of people running the country who think, more than ever, that the genders do not deserve equivalent compensation for what they do, let alone equivalent consideration for who they are.

A difference is that we do not have a plague or a war or a blight reducing our numbers at any significant rate. Also, we have procedures in place to keep the stock market from dropping out of existence.

These, I feel, will hinder, rather than help the re-emergence of progress, creativity, life.

What we have now as a world is not life. It is existence. It is the journey, in the literal sense: Getting from day to day, hoping to see the next one, never mind the one after that.

What we have now is the Remortance: The re-death of that which was alive. No period after a Renaissance has been as dark as this.

The Great Depression left a scar on the financial optimism of this country, but that was overcome. The events which have transpired since 1980 have left more scars, and we have not yet borne them out. How will we overcome them? We will forget them, and that is the greatest travesty of all.

We must find our way through this and shine as beacons of light. We must give our children hope that the world can be better; if they enter the real world with the thought that it is hopeless, then the world is lost, and it will only be a matter of time.

Let us be light for our children. The world still has so much potential.