Errands and Leisure and Shopping and Uncategorized25 Jul 2008 01:42 pm

I’m on a roll with my Slavic heritage this weekend.

The Evanston Ethnic Arts Festival pulls me back with the first two music acts of the day on the main stage: The Polkaholics and the Maxwell Street Klezmer Band. The Polkaholics are 10 and Maxwell Street is 25. I’m neither one of those numbers but I still can plop my sorry self on bike to see these bands play.

I ride along the lakefront through Northwestern’s campus. Surprisingly empty for noon on a very nice Sunday but some people are enjoying it, walking or sunning themselves. I make a mental note of some black-eyed Susans growing among some seagrass along the trail. Those need to give up some seeds for me later in the summer.

I’m running a little late but I resist the urge to speed through the pedestrians and a dog or two, and remind myself that a hard turn at speed on sand is going to net me some road rash. Good thinking there, Ace, you’ve learned something after riding a bike all these years.

The Polkaholics are firing up with their wacky brand of humor and amped-up guitar polkas. There’s not an accordian in sight, unlike some of the weddings I’ve been to in my life. Their answer is simple: they took guitar lessons when they were 10, not accordian lessons. Duh. Makes sense to me

Did you know that both “kielbasa” and “kishka” are sausages that begin with “k” and end with “a”?

Thank you, Polkaholics. These guys are fun and they are having fun. The play Too Fat Polka. They play Beer Barrel Polka. They play the Existentialist Polka. I never heard that one at the VFW.

Of course, I never heard klezmer music growing up, either, but my past Russian language study and travel mixes with the joyful music and makes me happy again to hear Maxwell Street perform fine pieces like, “Odessa.”

These folks are pros. I’m also thinking I could maybe look cool in a fedora and a necktie. Maybe this bikeshorts style needs to be revisited. I still won’t be able to sing or play the violin or clarinet. Next life. Maybe.

I catch the end of an altiplano group at the other stage as I’m leaving and I stop my bike to listen. I can’t play the pan pipes or the charango, either. Damn. They’re fun to listen to. Definitely not Slavic. I’m am so proud of my powers of observation.

I make a quick stop to buy some liquid things at Whole Foods. What self control: olive oil and dish detergent. I’m learning to parse out the heavy stuff. Again, I’m learning.

Ironically, because of a bike event, I cannot make my other desired stop at Wolf to pick up my photos. The sidewalks are cordoned off for a bike rally and I can’t cross the street. Could be worse, could be NASCAR on the North Shore. There’s a vision for you: silver-haired men in polo shirts splashing martinis cheering at speeding Porsche Boxsters, tanned blond at each driver’s side.

I have a little over an hour so I do a car thing with my bike: I ride my bike home instead of waiting downtown, walk the dog, and ride back downtown for tai chi, which manages to kick my butt despite its calm pace. I ride back home again.

The bike gives me this flexibility but I’m also getting tired from the day’s transport. That’s what happens when you use your own energy to get around.

I sleep well and the music is still in my head. Too tired to think of North Shore NASCAR.

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