Monday, April 06, 2009

Country Thunder 2009

I know I haven’t blogged in a long time, but this one’s so juicy you are gonna forgive my trespasses.

I went to Country Thunder last month. That’s right! One of the largest country music festivals in the nation and possibly the redneck spring break.

It reminds me a little of tubing the Salt River. Poor Arizonans don’t have any water. It sucks for us, okay? But we’re not going to let it keep us from having crazy beach parties.

So back at Country Thunder, every other girl is wearing a bikini—and daisy dukes, a cowgirl hat and boots. Every other guy is wearing jeans and a bare, sunburned chest. And there’s no water. It’s a little ridiculous, but like I said, not having water won’t keep us from pretending that we have water. Or at least filling up the bed of a pick-up truck with it.

Thus the theme of the most legendary campsite of the entire Country Thunder campground (a veritable sea of campers and tents): Get Lai’d. Yes, the décor screamed tropical: plastic plants, inflatable parrots and monkeys, a gigantic inflatable “aloha”, flower-painted beer pong tables, leis everywhere, Budweiser streamers, tiki torches, business cards, etc.

Generally the pace of life for the four days at Camp Get Lai’d goes something like this:

Start drinking beer at ten, when you happen to wake up to the sounds of a song about a country boy who can get you where you wanna go because he knows all the back roads being blared out of box speakers hooked up to an ipod.

Slowly go about cleaning the dust out of your crevices, peeing, brushing your teeth, trying to find clean clothes. (God, that place got so freaking dusty…)

Or take a five-minute, 6$ shower in a semi after waiting in line for an hour.

Maybe have a delicious, homemade breakfast burrito.

Watch the beer cruisers go by.

When you get tired of the steady parade of horn-honking, public nudity, intoxication, home-made parasail experiments, (see above) arrests, etc. go to the stage to see a show, maybe have an awesome Cajun Catfish Sandwich. (Damn that Cajun place is good.)

Or participate in a scavenger hunt mixer that has you asking neighboring campers for 3 different tampons, two types of condoms (used is not a type), blue spoons, Oreo cookies, pancakes with syrup, dryer lint, a lime Jell-O shot, an unsharpened pencil, a 1999 penny, a Christmas item, and the list goes on…for three pages.

Go back to the camper and have a nap.

Play ladder golf, or horseshoes, or some game with bean bags and a hole in a piece of wood.

Have something grilled for dinner.

Get dusted off, put on a jacket and watch a stoned Alan Jackson deliver a flawless performance.

Almost get into an altercation at the porta-potties culminating in a screaming match with some blond woman who you would not fight with because she is bigger than you.

Go back to Camp Lai’d after the show for a beer pong tournament followed by a live performance by The Larson Parks Band playing out of a blue pick-up truck.

Pass out somewhere at 5:00 a.m. Wake up with huge hickies on your neck right next to the hickie your girlfriend/boyfriend left before you came out here. Oops.

Lose your boots. Ask around for your boots the next day.

Realize your favorite beer was stolen. Blame someone else for leaving it in plain sight of mischievous drunkards. Go back to drinking PBR.

Yes, the infamous redneck stereotype of strict exclusion of anyone “different” made me nervous before I got there as well. I have some country “cred” of my own, being the daughter of an Iowa farm girl and, having started riding when I was young, having a horse and spending a college summer in Estes Park taking people on horseback rides through the Rockies six days a week, I wasn’t exactly a stranger to the cowgirl boots and the hat, but I felt I was on a polar opposite from most ideology that “country” stands for. What I realized is that we may have been conditioned to assume that polarity. “Liberals” should not make rigid assumptions about what it means to be “country”, “redneck” or whatever you want to call it. Equally, “conservatives” should resist knee jerk reactions against liberals. I see us managing the same symbols and key words, but not everyone ascribes to those symbols and key words in the same manner. In fact, I wrote an op-ed piece about it in The Arizona Daily Star.

On a final note, I'd like to mention something about "country culture" that I really appreciate. As the tee shirt below espouses, a common theme in country music is not having much materially, but making the most of it. (I personally relate to the Alan Jackson song, "Little Bitty": our home, dog and car are tiny. I also despise large portions.) In today's version of capitalism with so much pressure to participate in a culture of branding and consumption, making the most of a little and DIY pride are a point of resistance.


Andy said...

Country Thunder sounds rockin! Its a shame I missed it.

LadderGolfFan said...

when i read the story i felt sad that i missed out the Country Thunder festival..But I am happy to see that you all enjoyed the camp and Ladder golf game too..I also like the game very much..Ladder golf has become quite a popular game for all ages..