Saturday, June 26, 2004

I saw a metaphor today.
I did not conceive a metaphor. I actually saw one, in 3D, floating through the sky.

My band, the Flat Possum Boys, was playing at a hot air balloon festival in Glenmoore, PA. Glenmoore is beautiful, rolling hills and farms, but it is quickly being eaten alive by development, sprawl, and Mcmansions. The festival was great: nothing but families with young kids, good food, and of course hot air balloons. Most were the standard "upside down teardrop" models, rising from the earth like bubbles when water begins to boil. There were also several more artistic balloons. One was shaped like the Patriot space shuttle; most surreal was a giant barn, with animals peeping out the windows.

Watching so many balloons floating silently across the flawless blue sky was just odd. When looking at the ordinary balloons, I felt like everyone should be dressed as though it was the 1880s, with derbies, hoop skirts, and beards. When I looked at the floating barn, I felt like I was in some weird psychedelic cartoon like Fritz the Cat or Yellow Submarine.

The band after us, Animus, was setting up. They were described in the program as "Middle Eastern fusion." Traditional sounds and instruments over western beats. I was about to tune out on the music, when I saw it looming over the trees. The metaphor.

A massive ballon made to look like an American Flag was nearly filled and about to rise. This was one of the more creative balloons: the desingers had foregone the teardrop shpe in favor of a rectangular replica of Old Glory.

As the flag filled with hot air, it began slowly to rise, drifitng over the corral where Animus was beginning their set. As the strains of Arabic melodies filled the air, the America balloon began having trouble. It was, in fact, sinking rapidly. They had clearly lifted off too early, without enough hot air to keep things floating along. Instead of doing anything the guys piloting the balloon just stood there in the gondola, waving to the crowd below as if nothing was amiss, until they were about 10 feet from crashing into a hillside. Then one of the pilots began fanning the flames, filling the balloon with more hot air. Just when I thought the America balloon was about to crash, they narrowly missed the hill, and began to rise again, drifting away leaving nothing but Arabic Animus in their wake.
True story.


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