This should be a great week to be alive and in Indianapolis, whether the heat index ever gets under 100 or not. Lots of exciting events are happening in the city and I plan on taking full advantage of them.
Start with the Midwest Music Summit, about which you may find a few words in this week"s NUVO. For musicians, it"s a prime networking and showcase opportunity. While few if any bands will be signed by a major label as a direct result of the MMS, it"s still a great opportunity for them to be noticed.
For the rest of us, the 99.9 percent of people who don"t play in a band, it will be arguably the best weekend of live music in the history of the city. So many bands will be playing, not only could you not see them all even if you wanted, you"d collapse from exhaustion just trying.
The majority of people in the city don"t support local music, but this weekend is a prime chance to sample it. Whether you like punk, rap, acoustic or electronic music, the best regional and national artists will be present to entertain you. Or at least try.
It"s a veritable smorgasbord of exciting music, and this is the rare case where you should emulate the fat couples you always see at buffets and stuff your face until you"re about to burst.
Go back for seconds and thirds of the Slurs and the Pieces and the Mudkids. Pile up your plate with the Hooligans and Dirty Little Secrets. Go to the dessert bar and get some DJ Type A and Peelander-Z. By the time you"re full, you"ll be as content and sleepy as you are on Thanksgiving afternoon.
But the MMS isn"t the only event this weekend. My favorite display of all that is Hoosier, the Indiana State Fair, begins on Wednesday and runs through Aug. 18.
Talk about stuffing your face; you"re limited only by your wallet at the State Fair. Whether it"s a tasty lamb kebob, a steaming elephant ear or ice cream made from the milk of Indiana cows, there"s more than enough food to satisfy even the biggest gluttons in the state.
And while the State Fair is notable as a white-trash culinary event, it"s even more remarkable for the people and things you can see there.
You can joke about Hoosier hicks all you want, but you"ll rarely meet friendlier people than the farmers who bring their families and their animals to the State Fair and camp out for its duration.
They"ll happily answer all of your questions about their pigs, or their cattle, or their horses. They delight in spooking city folk like us with horror tales from the farm.
Most of us never step foot on a farm. We go to the store and buy our hamburger and our cottage cheese and don"t give a thought about where it came from. But Indiana"s family farmers help put that food on your table and they don"t even ask for recognition, let alone appreciation.
If you really want to freak out a farmer, go up to them and tell them thanks for everything they do. They never get that. What you"ll likely get in return is a smile and a handshake full of rural Indiana gratitude.
Agriculture, of course, is only part of what the State Fair is about. Possibly even more fascinating is the community of carnies, the people who assemble and operate the rides and the games at the fair.
They"re notoriously hard to get to open up - figuring, no doubt, that anyone too interested in them is an undercover cop or an inspector of some kind - but party with carnies and your life will be transformed forever. Trust me on that one. They can outdrink even the most jaded punk rockers.
While you may look down on the carnies, rest assured that they"re probably laughing at you. After all, most of us are tied down to an office, a mortgage or a marriage. Carnies get to travel the country, deal with new people every day and generally look at their customers as marks. Including you.
While you"re spending $20 trying to win a $3 stuffed animal, they"re laughing at your foolishness and greed. While you"re emptying your wallet at their food stands, they"re counting just how much they"ll clear that day, down to the last penny.
As a sociological event, the State Fair is about as fascinating as it gets. It brings together people literally from all races, classes and age groups, and gives them rides, food and education.
See you at the MMS and at the elephant ear stand. I"ll be the one hitting on the tattooed lady running the deep fryer and administering the cinnamon.
I am suspicious of vacations and generally contemptuous of those who take them. I like to work seven days a week and figure I"ll get all the rest I need when I"m either retired or dead.
But after the costliest, most difficult summer of my life, I"m finally taking two weeks off after the Midwest Music Summit and Ozzfest next week. I need to rest and recharge for whatever fall offensive I plan to launch.
For the first time in nine-plus years here, I"m going to turn off the computer for 14 days, ignore the phone and put as much distance between myself and Indianapolis as my beat-up car and empty pocketbook can manage.
I might end up in the desert. I might be seen at a casino, wearing a tuxedo and drinking martinis. I might go to Washington and consult with the National Security Council and give advice to the president.
I might go to NYC and go to the strip bars with my buddy Bill Clinton, who"s also got some free time on his hands.
I"ll come back better and stronger than ever, ready to kick some ass and take some names. See y"all in two weeks.