Monday, October 27, 2008

[Zebra_Trucks] Report from the Edmonton Heritage Festival

(A note from me to my readers: I know I promised this report to you a couple of months ago; I've been sort of preoccupied, as I will explain in a little bit.)


It as another amazing year at the Edmonton Heritage Festival, held in the first week of August. I attended all three days; Anne went along for two of them.  We weren't alone; sometimes we were there the park was just packed. When there are more people, there is more excitement; when there are fewer it's much easier to get food because the lines are shorter. Total attendance was around a half million people, I think – the weather was great and people really came out for it.


I think that the biggest crowd pleasers were the Cuban ensemble, which kept people joyously dancing for hours.  However, I took the greatest pleasure, as usual, in lucky encounters at the fringe of the festival. 


I really enjoyed Silent Rock, a Taiwanese folk rock group.  I loved them so much I hired them to play my birthday party.  They were concerned that their music would not go over too with my mostly gringo party-guests, since their lyrics were all in Mandarin Chinese. I had no such reservations, and I was right. Their infectious music transcended language barriers, and a couple of Anne's employees are Chinese, and they thought it was so special to be able to understand all the songs in their own language.


The next morning I saw a troupe of synchronized sleepers from Cochiland put on a strange and beautiful ritualized performance, which consisted of long periods of supine stillness.  Then at seemingly random intervals, they would simultaneously rearrange themselves into a new, identical position.  Though a very ancient art, it was strikingly modern, evoking the spirit of Andy Warhol.  Both his movie "Sleep" and his multiples silk screens came to mind. I thought they would also be an interesting for my party, but it wasn't the sort of thing to liven up a party with. Maybe to end one with.


However, my favorite performance of all was by a group of expatriate musicians from Luliland.   Their approach to music making was unorthodox; they had a way of making music with cheese graters and car keys I've never before experienced. The music is ethereal, impossible to describe, fading from memory like a dream, but leaving an essence, a lingering sensation that stays with you forever.


I spoke to one of the musicians after their performance, and learned a lot about the music and life of Luliland. From what he told me, Luliland sounded like an amazing place to me; why would anybody want to leave?

He explained that the main industrial products in Luliland are Magic, Grace, and Beauty.  In other places, where you can find these things at all, they are hand-crafted items, made in small quantities, available only at great price.  Luliland had great factories, where they would produce these items on a large scale, and export them all over the world. However, in the modern there is very little market for these items, so the factories were shut down, and most young people are forced to relocate, doing whatever work they can get – driving taxis, working as domestics, and so on. The Edmonton economic boom brought many of them there.

He said that one local legend is that the citizens of Luliland are descended from Bronze Age humans and the survivors of a crashed UFO.  I didn't laugh – there was something indefinably different about these people – a certain luminescence.


The weird thing is, I hired them to play at my birthday party, too, but they phone number and email address the man gave me didn't work.  Furthermore, I couldn't find Luliland on Google maps, or Wikipedia. 


I have become sort of obsessed with Luliland. I stay up late at night searching the web, looking for clues. I forget to shave; sometimes I don't shower for days. I have become indifferent to my job.  At times I feel like an expatriate from Luliland myself, haunted by their music, magic, grace and beauty.  I saw something somewhere about a wordpress site.  I'll check it out soon



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