Saint Barry of the Pilates

“But what is truth? Is truth unchanging law? We both have truths, are mine the same as yours?” —Pontius Pilate, “Trial Before Pilate,” Jesus Christ Superstar

I’ve written a lot about Jesus Christ Superstar. Our village recently experienced a second coming of Jesus—see what I did there—when we were visited by Ted Neeley, aka the Jesus who is easier to love than the one presented by the Church, at least for many people. The Little Art is the smallest venue to ever have hosted Superstar screenings with cast members present. And after this past weekend, Frank, the tour manager, told us that Yellow Springs is second only to Chicago for the total number of screenings. Ted and Frank assured us that they wish to return. They marvel at the welcome and friendliness they’ve experienced in our village.

When I spoke to Ted last in preparation for a pair of articles (click here and here) I wrote for the Yellow Springs News, Barry Dennen had just died owing to a tragic series of events. An intimacy developed in our conversation, and while I am readily aware that Ted could make a lamppost swoon from the charisma, we experienced a deep, authentic connection. It was like pastoring Jesus.

I was supposed to attend the Saturday night screening, but an incident in which my actions directly related to painful and panicky experiences for two persons I love deeply, I was devastated. I engaged in repentance and self-reflection, trying to gather myself for worship the next morning. We returned our tickets so that others could use them. I received messages from Gilah Pomeranz, who then went to Fort Wayne as the head roadie for Ted and Frank, Ted’s road manager. And I also received a message from Ted himself, expressing sympathy and regrets. Little did I realize, there were plans afoot that I had just monkeyed up.

Sure enough, when I walked into the church, there was Ted, waiting for me outside my office.


Did you know that Pontius Pilate is a saint in the Greek Orthodox, Coptic, and Ethiopian Churches? There are reliefs on sarcophagi picturing Pilate at the Last Supper or observing the crucifixion with sadness and disdain. In one example, Pilate is represented as being akin to Abraham while Jesus is paired with Isaac. Augustine called him a convert. And in Jesus Christ Superstar, as played by Barry and Ted, Jesus and Pilate loved and felt sympathy for one another.

And now you know the rest of the story.


Last Sunday evening, after a worship in which Miriam and I sang “The Rose,” at least after it took me a good 45 seconds to find my note (because that’s what you want, right, when you’re singing in front of Ted Neeley and are already horribly self-conscious about your singing voice), we met Ted, Gilah, Shep, and Frank at Tokyo restaurant in Fairborn. Once we were all settled in, Frank said, “Well, we should get this out of the way.” Everyone was looking at me.

What is about to happen? Am I being committed? Is this a food intervention?  The bipolar mind boggles.

Frank went on to explain that they were leaving relics of Barry in each of the places they visit in which Barry visited previously. He then told me to look at Ted, who had an impish grin and pulled out a bag.

“It’s Barry’s hat,” Frank said.


Me mustering every single bit of energy I have to not burst into tears; my lip looked like a dog’s cushion. 

These are the Pilate hats sold on tour, and Barry wore his for the duration of the VIP and screening the Little Art hosted in 2015. While the one gifted to me is not the one he wore in YS, it is the one he wore in the documentary film just released about the screening tours.

Here’s a better shot of it.


They were going to give it to me in front of the crowd on Saturday, and I know that Ted was a little disappointed, although he was gracious beyond measure because that is who Ted is in his DNA. And while that would have been a great moment, it also would have been too overwhelming for me, and I wouldn’t have been able to contain my emotions.

If you read the blog, then you know all the details about why this is such a powerful gift. Barry said that it is a club one enters into having played Pilate in Superstar. For me, I studied every gesture, every breath, every vocal intonation. When I played the part, I less played Pilate and more played Barry Dennen playing Pilate. The director herself once yelled at me, “Lose the accent, Aaron, you’re not Barry Dennen.”

I haven’t posted about this on Facebook. I haven’t even told my parents because the gesture has struck me so deeply. Words fail, and I’ve been told I can turn a phrase. I have been so deeply impacted that it shut me up.

I know, right? I’m a talking and writing fool.

Barry’s hat will find its home on a very special shelf next to Stephen’s ashes with his hat on top, Guinness’ ashes with her color on top. There will Barry’s hat will reside, until Ted and Frank return again. Then I will don the crown in honor of St. Barry of the Pilates.


If Racism Don’t Live Here, It Sure Do Visit A Lot


I know only what Ms. Brown has reported. I am not speaking to the facts. I am responding to someone in my larger community putting out a call. Until there is any provable reason to think otherwise, I take this as something to which I must draw attention. I wasn’t there, and this blog is more about the issues the story raises rather than litigating the narrative.  

The door of the car that Dietrina Brown worked so hard to acquire, now a daily reminder of a recent trip to the Kroger on Dayton-Yellow Springs Road that so many of us frequent. You can read the whole story here. In full disclosure, I do not know Ms. Brown. Her story was brought to my attention by a member of the Beloved Community Project (BCPYS), of which I am Founding Director of Interfaith Spirituality and Education. She’s my neighbor, though. Our towns are right next door. She’s a child of God. She is someone who has to drive by the hundreds of Trump signs in every corner of our county.  She has to think about her race each and every moment of the day because we have a society that won’t let her forget it, but shuns her when she talks about it. It is stuff like this that requires we say Black Lives Matter. This, and the bodies left in the streets while communites reel in disgust, grief, anger, and desperation. 

The denomination I serve, the Presbyterian Church (USA), has called for its majority white membership and clergy to stop with the thoughts and prayers. To stop with damaging theology that asks the oppressed to suffer for a greater glory and yet does nothing to afflict the comfortable. This is not about demonizing people. I am tired of hearing that I am ashamed to be “white” or that I am advocating self-hatred. I am not trying to guilt or shame anyone; I used to think that dealing with my own racism and implicit biases meants admitting I’m a bad person. Luckly, growing up in YS, being surrounded by diversity and living in a place in which social justice commitment is in the water, I learned that no one wants guilt. It does nothing but destroy. Awareness and compassion, though, are vital; when they replace guilt and shame, persons get in touch with their own call to this movemet. To this transformation of consciousness. They own their own part in being within a larger community that rises up in love and solidarity around issues such as stopping racial terror. 

I believe that we all are created imago dei. If I want to see God, I cannot hold out for a burning bush or theophonic speech. I have to look into the eyes of my neighbor. I have to be so counter-culture that I actually love myself. Not engage in Trumpian narcissism. But love myself. Understanding that God has planted within me, within all of us,, something divine. Our bodies are made with star dust and our minds can unravel mysteries and bring things into creation. My denomination has called for me to use every ounce of privilege I have in standing up and shoutin’: ENOUGH.
In our neighborhood, this has happened. The n-word scratched onto a car. The open disdain that is being boldly paraded around our streets is new only in its audacity; for those of us who have lived here for decades, we have always known. Every single one of my friends of color from here or who have visited here has had a racist incident in Fairborn. I am not claiming that Yellow Springs doesn’t have racist incidents; we do. Generally of very different flavors, but racism just the same. And I certainly am not saying that all people who live in Fairborn are racist. So let’s not get it twisted and start arguing against things that are not there. I know, not all white people. Not all Fairbornites. 

But the car-scratching type of racism visits here. A lot. I know because I see it every weekend when people who obviously despise everything we as a village stand for, come in and gawk at us and talk loudly and point. Who glare at me, pastor of a congregation that has been around since 1855, when I go bounding down the steps of the church because…well, I look the way I do. They take pictures of “hippies,” and we locals always laugh because those aren’t hippies and they don’t live here. YS cosplay is real, except the only people in on it are the locals. We don’t dress up. We live up. These types of tourists walk by each shop and say, “that’s diff’rnt.”They glare at two men holding hands, or feel it is incumbent upon themselves to bring Jesus to Yellow Springs, seeming to forget that we have a house of worship for every 300 or so citizens in the village. We’ve got spiritual life covered, and Jesus is well-represented. Come find out on Sundays, 10:30 at First P resby. Or visit any of the other wonderful  spiritual communities to which we are home; the pointing tourists don’t care to actually learn about this, though. They shout “All Lives Matter” at us because of our BLM signs and T-shirts. They generally try to do a beeline to D.C., one of our favorite sons, and then townies like me gotta jump in and let them know that this is not a photo op. This is home. He’s not Rick James, bitch. We hear the snide remarks about Obama, or how drugs are legal here, or how if you order the right way Ha-Ha’s will give you psychedelic mushrooms on your pie. I know the owner. He is way too cheap to ever do something like that 😉 Each weekend we are visited by people who make it known how the abhor us. Again, not all tourists. Not saying that. Let’s not go tilting at windmills.

Our local commerce is not important enough for us to tolerate some of the behavior that is going on; the racists don’t really care anymore because too often there are not consequences. I know that I am going to be accused of being racist or prejudiced against white people, but I am not casting aspersions. There are well-meaning whites who feel so attacked and backed into a corner, and their internalizing of racist fallacies is so deep they feel like they are losing something that belongs to them; they feel heard and understood by someone like Trump. They genuinely don’t see their own racism, and their own circumstances are challenging enough that learning you play a role in other people’s oppression is not exactly great leisure time activity. I get it. It is because white supremacy thinkimg is so ingrained in our culture and sense of self, extricating oneself from it is hard work, yo. 

I thank Ms. Brown for sharing her story. The attention should be on her, helping her to feel more safe, more heard, more empowered, more confident that this will not go unchecked. I am asking for everyone who reads my blog and lives in this area, share Ms. Brown’s original post. I don’t want this to seem like an effort to up my own traffic. The spotlight needs to be on the incident. If you do repost this blog though, thank you and let’s make sure we keep our eyes on the prize.

For those who cannot help Ms. Brown directly, there is something you can do. I can’t tell you exactly what because I don’t know your life and situation. But there are organizations thatcan help, like BLM or SURJ. If you are interested in being part of something new, the BCPYS is in the process of forming. There’s tons of information on our FB page and we are in the process of launching a website; we are also proudly affiliated with the national boycott to end police brutality that starts December 5.

Speaking up is hard. Not looking away is hard. But white people, we have got to step up in the real world. That is scary which is why we all need to be talking to each other on the regular. We have to talk about race. We have to listen to our friends of color bear witness. God is calling for us to be present and acknowledge the very real pain and fear that traditionally marginalized and oppressed people bear. These experiences are literally written onto the body. If you have never held a 300 lb black man with a PhD as he sobs into your embrace because the latest racial slight from the academy is final proof that he would never actually be accepted, you might not understand why I cannot be silent. I cannot look away. God has blessed me with so many friends. And it is like the rainbow coalition up in my social world. If you can’t do it yet, if you can’t speak out or take a lead that’s okay. But I ask that you start doing a little work each day.  We cannot shrug this off. Black people are literally begging us to not be indifferent to their murders and marginalizing, and we’re like, “Well, I’m not racist so I don’t know what else I can do.”

This happened in our neighborhood because we have a culture in which it is allowed to happen. I’m not saying the police; I’m not saying Kroger. I’m saying us. The people who live here. We are letting is happen unless we release a primal scream that will make the devil himself shift uncomfortably in his throne.

To Ms. Brown. I hear you. I see you. I thank you.

All things in love, friends, and in love all things.


The Gospel at First Presby

I was eight, maybe nine when my mother introduced me to Gospel at Colonus. That might seem odd, but remember that I was born in the ’70s. I grew up watching The Electric Company. I knew about Morgan Freeman before Lean on MeAnd that voice just captivated me, as it does to so many of us. Mom pulled out a vinyl record and sat me in front of our hi-fi, a spot where I would come to discover Synchronicity I, Born in the USA, and News of the World. But that is another story.

Gospel at Colonus became an obsession.

Faithful Reader will know that I grew up as an atheist, but my parents were not militant. I think at times I painted it that way to make my conversion more dramatic. Any militancy that I had in my own atheism came from me and my decisions. My parents were not hostile to the concept of God, they were simply disgusted with the realities of religion. So when I asked for a Bible, I got one. When I wanted to go to church, they would arrange it (although I didn’t go for the first time until I was 19, but again that is another story). Gospel at Colonus, which is a dramatic reading of Oedipus at Colonus by Sophocles with gospel music interspersed, introduced me to the cadences of the Black Church; the use of call and response; the singsong delivery of spoken word. Morgan Freeman plays The Messenger. James Earl Jones makes an appearance as well. It is, simply put, a work of genius.

From Gospel I went to Mahalia Jackson. Again, still an atheist, but in love with gospel music. And not just Black gospel; Bluegrass gospel as well. That, Jesus Christ Superstar, an obsession with Judas, and studying the historical Jesus provided the foundation of my conversion

Last night at First Presby we hosted the African American Culture Works (AACW) Gospel Fest. Liturgical dancers from Jeraldyne’s School of Dance,members of the Central State University Gospel Ensemble, and preaching by Rev. Joshua Ward of Omega Baptist Church filled our stately sanctuary. The crowd could have been bigger, but those who were there allowed themselves to be moved and inspired. We paid homage to Miss Faith Patterson, a matriarch and inspiration to so many. She is having her homegoing this weekend, though she went to be with the Lord almost a year ago.

She was a queen.

I sometimes get side-eyes for how rooted I seem to be in the Black church. My influences are genuine; my experiences growing up, and the emphasis on race consciousness that was central to my education at Yellow Springs High School, have combined with my preference to be in worship situations in which we are demonstrative. Where we get up, we shout, we sing, we dance, we hug, we call out exclamations. Where we let the preacher know we agree by vocal acclamation. But I respect that such is not really the kind of congregation I serve. That’s cool. It is not my place to try to make something artificial. But when I get the chance to do something authentic? Wooooo doggy, you best believe I’m going to be all over that like gravy on biscuits.

On my left arm, I have tattooed three scripture references, each inside a multicolored ichthus. One of those scriptures is Galatians 3:28


“There is no male or female, Jew or Gentile, slave or free; we are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Unity in the Body of Christ does not mean that we ignore one another’s differences. In fact, being a Christian, I think, should make one more appreciative and aware of the wonderful diversity God has provided. If we want to understand who God is, we have to look into the eyes of others. We have to permit ourselves to be vulnerable, to prioritize others over ourselves when we are able, to affirm differences as part of what makes community so powerful.

The Associate Dean at United Theological Seminary, the wonderful Dr. Harold Hudson, and I were speaking a few weeks ago. I asked Dr. Hudson, “You gonna come to the Gospel Festival in Yellow Springs?” “I didn’t know you joined the AME Church,” he responded. “I didn’t,” I replied. “Are you a Baptist now?” he inquired. “Nope,” I assured him. “I’m still at the Presbyterian Church.” Wide-eyed, he asked: “Gospel? At the Presbyterian Church?!” I smiled, “that’s just how we roll at First Presby, Dr. Hudson. That’s just how we roll.”

There are times when we are able to stop being the White Church or the Black Church. Baptists or Presbyterians. And while a worship style may not be endemic to a particular denomination that does not mean that such worship cannot be had, authentically and joyfully, if God so wills it. If God so causes it to happen.

Gospel at First Presby.



Locker Slappin’ Good Time: The 6th Annual Cyclops Fest


Justin Galvin and I technically went to school together for a year before he moved away. I was in sixth grade. I knew of him only because I had a huge, huge crush on his sister.* In fact, I am about to share a story I have never uttered to a single person, but one that has been with me since sixth grade.

It was the last day of school in a building that would no longer serve as a middle school. There was no small degree of chaos and don’t give a fuck in the air. The building itself had no windows, except those that were at the entrance. The classrooms were largely divided off by retractable walls. The lockers were in a pit, with two sets of stairs leading to two sides. If there was not a teacher around, you get get away with just about anything in the locker pit; and even if there were a teacher around, their sight lines were minimal. On this day, I honestly think all the teachers were in the back getting drunk, or had already done gone home.

As I was walking from the gym, I heard what was distinctly flesh slapping up against a locker. I knew that from having had my own face shoved into those lockers more than once. As I looked down into the pit, I saw Justin’s sister making out with a guy; she was slapping the locker above her head, presumably because the kiss was that intense.

Think about that. A locker slappin’ good kiss.

I’ve never been able to shake that image and I don’t want to; it has been a standard of measurement for me since sixth grade. “I know it’s good, but is is locker slappin’ good?” I would ask myself. Sometimes in situations I would think it to myself and start chuckling, and people’d ask what was so funny and I would just have to say “nothing.” It’s too long a story to tell and not get a laugh; I always thought that I’d just keep it to myself.

But then Justin came back to the area with his amazing wife Dj and their awesome sauce daughter, and opened up Urban Handmade. Now, they probably won’t tell you this the first time you speak to them because they are humble, good people, but both Justin and Dj were very successful as advertising designers. They were certainly set in terms of money and job stability, but they made the conscious decision to open a shop that provides opportunities and exposure for artists, artisans, jewelry designers, and others. Some of these artists can most likely only have their crafts sold in boutique shops such as this one.  The Galvins’ commitment to art, economic justice, and artistic honesty are central to the ethos of Yellow Springs; they have utilized their cultural privilege to help crafts persons take products to the market in ethical ways that benefit both the artist and the business, as well as the communities they serve. The Galvins’ design business, Clay+Stan, is also integral to their contributions; again, they wouldn’t say it, but they are donating a considerable amount of talent and time to helping launch The Beloved Community Project of Yellow Springs.

I promise that I’m not writing an advertisement here; I’m starting a series of entries I will do over the course of the year to highlight businesses and events in Yellow Springs that reflect the giving, nurturing, mindful work that goes on in our village. Thanks to Justin and Dj, one of those events is celebrating its sixth anniversary, Cyclops Fest, which takes place on Saturday, September 10 at Mills Lawn from 10am-6pm.

Now I’m going to start writing like this is being published in some cute little zine and not on the blog of a guy who is 40 and still wears cargo shorts. Also, heads up, I’m taking answers Justin gave to The City Paper‘s questions and re-appropriating them, so this conversation never happened anywhere but my mind, but the answers are still accurate.

We’ve gotta start with the name, right? What’s up with the name?

Honestly, because all the other mythological creatures were already taken by other art and music festivals. Traditionally, the Cyclops is a really weird and unique character in stories and fairy tales. They also have a tendency to terrorize small towns and villages. So we thought, let’s just take a Cyclops, make him loveable and huggable, endear him to an amazing small town and brand an entire handmade festival around him. Luckily, it’s worked out pretty good.

Actually, that’s pretty rad. I like this idea. But Justin. Baby. Don’t we have enough festivals in YS? Is this just another Street Fair? 

Well, first of all we’re smaller and second of all we focus strictly on handmade culture. The Street Fair is an amazing event that the Yellow Springs Chamber of Commerce has been able to pull off each year with an incredible amount of organization and infrastructure. As retail shop owners in town it’s also a huge boost for business. However, our focus has been to remain a relatively small festival that celebrates the power of creativity and community on a more personal level. 

Wow. That’s cool. So, what has been the reaction of our temperamental village in which no one is happy unless someone is upset? 

Well, Yellow Springs in particular has been incredibly supportive and invested in our success. In addition to organizing Cyclops Fest we also own Urban Handmade and a small ad agency called Clay + Stan. Being able to make a living doing what makes us happy is truly because of all the love and support this weird, inspiring, crazy and amazing town has given us. 

People can go to the website to see the amazing number of vendors, along with learning about the music, food, beer, stuff for the kiddos, and all those goodies. But what kind of goods can people expect? 

This year we’ll feature apparel, accessories, jewelry, bath & body, kids, home goods, food trucks and just about every type of art imaginable. The best part is, independent artists and small businesses make everything. Each person who visits Cyclops Fest has the opportunity to not only support independent artists and small business owners but also have the experience of getting a t-shirt that the artist not only designed but also picked the garment, the ink, made the screen and printed themselves. Handmade culture has a very personal vibe to it. You get to know the person you are buying from. A sort of history lesson, if you will.

Alright, man. Well, make the check out to Rev. Aaron Maurice Saari, and I’ll post this after it clears.

For realsies, though, here’s the deal. One of the things that has always made Yellow Springs special is how supportive we are of artists. Of all types. Think of how many dance concerts, plays, band concerts, chamber music performances, gigs at the Peach or the Emporium, you’ve been to in just the past two years. We support art here. Justin and Dj are doing something special and important, and they are doing it here in the village because they want to give back. And I know my Communist friends are going to argue that capitalism is inherently cruel and even altruistic motives do not mitigate the damage that is done. Blah. Yeah, perhaps. And we can go to the Sunrise and take turns at who gets to play Trotsky and who gets to be Lenin, but for right now I’m gonna say that Cyclops Fest is locker slappin’ good. Each year the festival gets bigger, but for the right reasons: more sponsors, more vendors, more local bands, more local food trucks. Yellow Springs continues the tradition of providing space and time and opportunity for artists of all sorts to support themselves and one another.

I hope that you’ll come. Check out Cyclops. Help support local business. We fight hard to prevent sprawl; let’s make sure we support those people that help keep YS weird.

*Sister, if you read this I know that you are engaged and I am offering to do your wedding for free (especially if you are in any way embarrassed, which I hope you’re not because that memory is like one of my favorites and you’re why).

Ordination Destination

I’ve been a die hard U2 fan since 1983. Like, an insufferable U2 fan because I legit loved them before they became huge and it pissed me off that people only started pay attention after The Joshua Tree. If you didn’t know all the words to The Unforgettable Fire, you were just a poser in my book.

 So that made me real fun to hang out with circa 1990-1996.

I remember seeing Rattle and Hum in the theater with my best friend Shane Delbianco; we were in a “band” called Ace, which was comprised of me strumming on an out of tune guitar (without knowing a single chord) and him refusing to use his drumsticks on books because our band teacher had said it ruined them. The sticks, not the books. So that also shows what an immature ass I was at the time. I did album art for two offerings, “Learning to Drive” and “Diamonds Are Forever.” While I listened to a lot of U2, I also loved Tiffany and Europe. And not Final Countdown Europe, but rather Wings of Tomorrow Europe, their “other album” with songs like “Ninja.” I have always been a romantic lad.

Ace broke up by the time we hit 7th grade and there are no rumors of a reunion tour.

That period between Rattle and Hum and Achtung Baby was interminable for me. I kept reading that U2 was breaking up. Friends who saw a leaked photo of the song lineup ridiculed me because “One” was clearly the name of a Metallica song on the greatest metal album of all time, …And Justice for All. No way could there be two great songs with the same name. It was a dark time for the loyal Feedback fans (look it up) until the video for “The Fly” was released and Stephen, my brother, and I went apey. Totally apey. I got the cassette on the day it came out from the Upper Valley Mall in Springfield, and that Walkman did not leave my head for months. 

Months, I tells ya. 

It’s a long way from the Joshua Tree to Zoo Station if you want to rock and roll.

Six years ago, my mantra was Destination Ordination. It was my Joshua Tree. It took three years to achieve. Now, on the three year anniversary of ordination, I am at the precipice of something new. Something radical. Something scary. A nonprofit that right now has $90 in the tank thanks to a nascent Go Fund Me campaign; no offices, of course; projects that need to come together in the next few months while I start teaching again and continue to work on the doctorate (and, I dunno, pastor a church). It’s scary, friends. Scary.

name plate.jpg

This picture was taken moments after I left the sanctuary freshly ordained and went to the office for my first called position. Well, my only called position. I’m a contract worker now. A supply pastor. That title pisses me off to no end, but that’s the subject of another entry. 

I had waited so long to see that title, “Reverend,” in front of my name. The sense of accomplishment lasted about a week. And then I became obsessed with becoming Rev. Dr. Aaron Maurice Saari.

I’m working through that with my therapist.

I’m not really chasing a title anymore. It is not Destination Doctor-ation. (Sorry; that’s lame, but the whole rhyming thing seemed necessary, begging your pardon.) Now it is Ordination Destination. Where is this path going to take me? What communities am I going to be able to serve while providing a living for myself and my family? We’ve cut back as far as we can. There is no more to give up. We’re to the bone, and that’s okay. We’ve done this together. We support one another and believe in what we do.

But this is a leap. A huge, frightening, uncertain leap. I’m not looking for another job. I’m trying to create something with others trusting me and my skills, my leadership, my abilities.

I’m fucking terrified.

Which makes me pretty confident that I’m actually following Jesus.

You can help by clicking here

A Tale of Two Springs: Life in a Tourist Trap


In the short time it took me to drive downtown this morning, drop Miriam off for work, get my gallon of diet chemicals and drive home, I saw a bicyclist have to swerve out of his lane because of the SUV that was turning in front of both of us, only to speed away while I made a gesture that was not the sign of the cross.

Shit. I did that right in front of the church, too. Bad pastor. Bad, bad pastor.


An entire family was wandering from Short street onto Walnut, which means nothing if you’re not from here, but locals are seeing it. They stopped traffic on both sides–this was a family of about 5, mind you–and all but one of them made it to the sidewalk without looking to see that there were cars, I dunno, using the fucking road as it is designed to be used! The one who did notice did not respond the way I would have had my entire family’s collected ass been hanging out on public display looking like a jack-o-lantern in December. Like Christmas lights in March. He gave a pathetic little wave, not even bothering to do the awkward half-run, half-walk that I felt was owed because of the fucking severity of the offense. At least give me the worst impression of a speed walker you can muster up while still pulling up your metaphorical pants because, you know, the ass thing.


I mean, what the fuck is wrong with some of the people who come into this village and act like the laws of basic human decency don’t apply? I know, I know, it happens everywhere. But unless you live in a tourist trap like this, you might not understand the particular type of entitled stupidity that we locals endure. It used to be just a few times a year; like, we’d meet our jackass quotient in June and October; but now, because Street Fair has become something unto itself, there’s free-range jackass as far as the eye can see. Even the living ancestors can’t remember a time when jackasses were so plentiful. And not just on Street Fair.

Hmmm. Do I want to go there?

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I tend to stay out of the Street Fair Wars.

Oh, do you not know of the Street Fair Wars? Child, we have lost a lot of good people in the SFW. Decent people who have been shoved to one pole or another, either adamant that it return to the original sidewalk festival (some of us even know that there was a film made with just such a conversation 20 years ago), or believe that Street Fairs are an engine of the local economy and the tent poles upon which our ever-growing list of festivals and events hang. Many argue that the benefits to local business owners, of which my wife’s family is one, are negligible, and that most of the money is made by interlopers and professionals who travel from event to event. Others argue that the benefits come through sustained relationships with local businesses that begin with exposure at Street Fair.

But like I said, I try to stay out of it.

As pastor of First Presbyterian, and therefore part of the attenuating Strawberry and Apple Festivals, I remain neutral. But I have friends on all sides. Most people are reasonable, but it is pretty much a guaranteed fight if you get the wrong people in the room together, throw some liquor in them, and then toss out something like, “I feel like the village was more authentic when the event was for locals,” and watch a bloodbath ensue.

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I appreciate that there is life in the village. I really do. There is almost always something cool going on; we have vibrant art and music and theater scenes. There are lectures and dozens of organizations that span the whole of intellectual and spiritual life. But there are times when I don’t go downtown; there are weekends that I only venture to the church on Sunday. I have friends who leave the village completely on SF days each year because they are so tired of people parking on their lawns and then getting into fights over it. People who just don’t want to receive the energy. Because, for some reason, a percentage of that energy is hostile. There are people who come here to stare at the freaks.

The richness of Trump supporters coming to where I live to look at “freaks”surpasses even the phony net worth that the Orange Baboon claims to possess.

So these are clear Tea Party conservatives who are not “live and let live” Christians, but people who say wholly inappropriate and aggressive things to bait people or to slam our collective values. I have a dear friend who has an incisive, cutting wit and who, with his badass wife, runs one of the coolest shops in town. He posts these stories about customer questions and reactions that are so jaw-droppingly ignorant, this is me on video cam while reading one of his updates:


Here’s the deal. I may disagree with you on 100 out of 100 things, but I’m still going to love you. I’m still going to extend respect. Because I follow Jesus and I take the shit seriously. But I don’t understand the point of coming into a community with the expressed purpose of denigrating local shopkeeps, the products they carry, the way they price their items, the food options that are available, the sort of political beliefs that are expressed through signs, flags, T-shirts, and conversations, and all the other disrespectful, jackwagon shit that goes on more and more in this place I love.

In the scheme of things, it is a small price to pay for living in this place. This is totally a first world problem, and I am blessed to be where I’m at.


I was uncertain about writing today. I have to confess something through, Faithful Reader. Things are unsettled right now in The Shire. There is a very serious situation involving rape, race, harassment, sexual assault, predatory behavior, social justice circles, accusations of racism, of misogyny; there’s pain and fear and uncertainty. And that’s what I want to write about, but I can’t. Not now. It is not mine to write. Not yet, if ever. But I can’t pretend that it is not happening. I write so I can joke about; so I can use words to create humor so my mind won’t drift to the people I love who are scared. Who are angry. Who feel unsafe and unheard.

So this blog is the tale of two Springs. Both real. At times unreal. But the place where I call home.

Oh, and one last thing. For the love of God, will you leave Dave Chappelle the hell alone? Damn, people. Act like you got some sense.