Matthew A. Cremer reporting = 0 )
Ahhhhh, how super duper it is to finally step inside the majestic walls of a portable truth lab. And when I say portable, I mean a secret tree house, of course. One loaded to the brim with Fruit Roll-ups, knick-knacks, pally-wacks, slides, whistles, flashes, algorithm poops and magical lever loops going every which conceivable fun zone direction. Because surely everyone knows that when it comes to fact-finding, the shortest route from one spot to a golly heck ‘nother is all points in between. Whatever that means. Yes, such feats require only a modern marvel of technological truth tickling prowess indeed! Once we get the wheels greased on the son of a bitch, there’s no tellin’ how far this truth report will wind and weave its way straight out into the annals of Smithsonian lore. That’s right, eat your filthy heart out, Columbo! And Galileo and da Vinci and, and Dora the Explorer. Ok, ok – and Jacques Cousteau too! Ohhhhh, how could I ever forget that fuckin’ guy! So anywho, where to start, where to begin? The Gratifly superhuman singles dance mixer sure was quite the hot doozey of a heaping mess if there ever was one. Oh boy, talk about a dysfunctional reach-around to the stars! But before I begin to dip my toes in that cesspool, maybe there was just as much, if not plenty more, to be fully appreciated within the bizarre fields of Avalon. And you at home may be wondering, “You’re just a silly goose of a fish outta water fool. What could you really know?” You know what though? Silly-ass goosefish are people too! True fucking story. Then again – sure, I know, I get it – what could a first-timer noob like myself even remotely be capable of understanding when it comes to the enchanting as all effing get out realm of the swell Transformer bushmen peoples? You gotta give me some credit here though. It’s not everyday that you’re escorted on a golf cart by a talking Marshmallow, grapple with the Cosmic Giggle, engage with Geometry Wizards and get whisked away on a merry sing-along train by a naked jungle queen! All while rocking out the most scintillating panty scarf and protective body spandex known to man this side of the Mason-Dixon!? Look, I even partially stepped outside of my Kanye Shart comfort zone! What more do you want from me?! Ohhhhhh, so you want more? You’d like to see an afterschool special pile o’ truth sauce for the ages, would ya? Well, you could just wait until my epic truth exhibit at the Smithsonian opens in the not-so-distant future. Possibly even send me a fancypants postcard while you’re there. Or I suppose it could all be laid out before you to read as a nice bedtime story or wherever you do the god forsaken reading. I don’t even wanna know! Fiiiiiiiiine, ok, I guess I could take the time to pen a detailed dissertation pondering the proliferation of positive. Fair warning though, as fun as golly-ass fuck as this is gonna be, mind you – I’m just a big ole dummy who has “no idea what he’s talking about.” Fair warning! One way or another, in order to concisely extrapolate on such a plethora of feel-good festival jollies, I’m gonna have to do the once unthinkable, the once unimaginable, the once deplorable. You heard it hear first folks – speak in plain and simple terms. Bring it all the way down from Funkytown. Elucidate in clear, unfiltered English. Except I won’t be whispering sweet nothing’s into your silly little ear!
To insure you kiddos, no matter where you’re nestled deep in the cozy web of the outside world, can comprehend the stream of hard-hitting investigative sleuthery I’m about to unload on you, maybe I’m gonna need to bring this fireball in nice and easy breezy. Maybe things need to be toned down just a smidge before I throw the kitchen sink at ya or any other home appliances for that matter. So much so that I’m bringing in a helper buddy to deliver the special sauce with quadruple the extra sprinkles on top. And nothing says quadruple the effing truth sprinkles like injecting myself with truth serum. Does that sound fun or what? Let’s see here, how does this thing even work? Hmmm, so apparently this needle guy is quite the lil go-getter of useful, rather exotic information. Aren’t you? Aren’t you? Damn it, quit being such a Prickly Pete and say “hi” to everyone! Ohhhhhh, I see how it is. Handing out the silent treatment, eh? Ok, ok, so on second glance, according to these ever-so-helpful “directions,” the needle itself does not in fact speak. Damn it, talk about a wet blanket in the lively department! Well fine, just be that way then. So much for getting better acquainted with one another before you get all up inside of me. You know, whatever floats your boat, little guy. But enough pillow talk already. My readers demand the truth! Alright everyone, you ready for this? As madcap zany as this might sound, I’m going to stick myself somewhere on my perfectly healthy, precious body with a needle of all things in the name of the filthy-ass truth. Welp, here’s to penetrating into the depths of the great unknown! Candy canes and sprinkles forrrrrrrrreeeeevvvvvvvveeeeeerrrrrrrr!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Whoooo-eeeeee, things sure are kickin’ in pretty freakin’ quick! I’m already getting just a tad dizzy here. Feel as if I can no longer hold any of the disgustingly, raunchy truth inside anymore. It absolutely has to get out – like right effing now. Ohhhhh golly heck no, the room is spinning. So freakin’ much that I feel as if I’m being overwhelmed. I’m gonna warn you guys right now – I could start babbling a whole slew of goofy nonsense and big baller dictionary garble at any given moment, people. There’s this burning sensation to take it wherever it wants to go. Don’t judge me! Hugs and kisses!
Oh boy, I feel like I’m…I’m…entering another dimension here…………………….
Ok, sooooooooooooo yeah. Where was I?
From what I could gather, the Vocal Improv workshop was a microcosm of the festival itself. Like the soundscape we were candidly contributing to in our own random and at times awkward, but ultimately beautiful way – this festival was just that. It was a safe haven to be whoever we truly are – together. To untangle and unwind our anxieties, fears, hang-ups and insecurities out there in the clear. To hopefully find our voices – because they were welcomed whole-heartedly. Being enabled to accomplish this not just as a means of getting out of our own way, but to get into each other’s. As in to co-mingle, co-create and collaborate. To detach ourselves from the trappings of civilization designed to keep us from congregating. Although this hokey pokey Gratifly was a space devoid of such silly boundaries, there were still plenty of voids ready to be filled. Many were on a mission. On a mission, I tell ya! To be inspired by the missing pieces to their own journey’s truth as they came into view. Pieces floating around in the form of fresh concepts, innovative practices, bold seeds of paradigm-shifts and conscious modalities for healing.
For this private truth sleuther, there was quite the kaleidoscope array of goosebump tingling interactions and kooky approaches out there. Yeah, they were out there, alright. Shedding brilliant light on the burgeoning possibilities of positive, impactful change, which this strange world of the “Transformational” makes available to anyone and everyone ready to take on. Each portal of insight being an entry coordinate unto itself, yet somehow reflecting back at one another to varying degrees. For starters, that could’ve been during Mr. Daniel (aka “The Pinchinator”) Pinchbeck’s workshop as he discussed the Wiki component of a website he co-founded called “Center for Planetary Culture.” Still in its early stages, it was created to be an open repository for strategic initiatives aimed at global crises ranging from climate change to economic inequality. However, instead of potentially becoming some kind of intellectual pissing contest, if you will, the purpose is to serve as a coalition of forward-thinking ideas, which can evolve together through a cooperative vision. From the global to the festival level, it was during the “Growth Edges of Transformational Culture” panel where Mr. Ehren Cruz essentially spoke along the same lines of this application. With dynamic language like “co-opetition” at the core of Mr. Ehren’s message, he explored what surely must be one of the bedrocks of Transformational culture – transitioning beyond mean ole divisive, ego-driven competition rampant in the “default world” into an emergent culture driven by a symbiotic communal vision. One where we “invite one another in…and push each other while striving toward bigger, better and beautiful goals as allies to the same path with just different flavors of getting it done.” Well gosh darnit, now why is that so freakin’ hard for people to wrap their silly heads around? Indeed, I’d reckon to say it’s pretty imperative that we fully appreciate the opportunity and the necessity to invite each other in. Because perhaps at the very center of this crazy “brave, new world” funny business is to know that everyone deserves a seat at the table. Everyone deserves a chance to be heard. No matter what angle someone is arriving from at these “growth edges.” No matter how much someone is initially willing to participate and contribute. Whether coming to a festival like this to party their happy ass into oblivion and nothing else – everyone has to start somewhere, right? No matter where that person is currently residing along his or her life’s path. No matter how dark and murky the seas being navigated may be. Because everyone at least deserves the chance to show up when he or she is ready. Ready to share, not hoard.
And this philosophy exists on a two-way street. For anyone and everyone who is ready to participate, there isn’t some spiritual quota they must first meet in order to join in. In fact, the analogy of “do not put all the lighthouses on one beach,” which was so keenly shared with me by the dinosaur whispering sage Mr. Michael Garfield, takes this reasoning even further. As in, how are we to evolve out of an “elites-only-count” mentality ingrained in the golly heck outside world if we are reinforcing it by accumulating all the abundant wealth of conscious-minded knowledge off to one side for only the most “select of the select” to have access to? What does that accomplish? I suppose it alienates and stunts growth. I mean, geez Louise guys, I’d reckon to say “A “Headier than Thou” mindset is just a recipe for failure. I bet that crazy shit-ball stew tastes absolutely horrible too! Whether it’s any Transformational festival or this way of life in general – it has to be made as accessible as possible to everyone. Yes, gee willickers, I know that’s quite the bonkers concept. But I’d reckon to say, you and me – we ain’t all that much different. But I’m just an uncultivated private dick noob, what could I know?
During our discussion, this was a fundamental belief the Garfield further elaborated on: “Part of ecological or complex systems thinking is recognizing the intrinsic value of diversity for robustness – meaning, the more types of people in a culture, the more adaptable and creative that culture can be.” Damn it Garfield, why must you speak so much filthy truth? Can’t you just stick to curating dinosaur roundtables or arguing profusely with Alf???
But just as everyone has to start somewhere in his or her own personal “trajectory,” so too does any festival’s model, right? I’m talkin’ about a festival model that may or may not be able to adapt when it matters supremely the most. Oh really now – is that so? Of course, I’m not naïve to the growing pains and shortcomings that this Gratifly gathering endured. Yes, the arrival system, although quite adventurous, was a total debacle. Oh boy was it ever! Yes, disorganization was the norm all weekend. No, there weren’t any mermaids. Yes, it’s a damn shame when a big ole portion of one night’s music artisanship from outer space was lost to noise complaints of all things. Noise complaints! I mean, really? It’s a god forsaken music festival, people! And yes, it was and still is most unfortunate when artists, musicians and others, who contributed so very much to the festival, have either yet to be paid for their services or never ever will be. A most dubious of wrong turns that certainly led the Gratifly “organization” down quite the doozey of a “Dead End,” where indispensible principles such as accountability, credibility, respectability, sustainability and just about every other letter in the alphabet for that matter which involves some semblance of true and honest “ability” ceased to be. Sweet golly Jesus, a most cautionary of tales indeed. It is especially unsettling, no matter who is behind any event, when this lack of ingenuousness lends itself much more to the very machine whose inertia this wacky movement is peacefully working together against rather than aligning with core values the festival was supposed to be whole-heartedly embracing and promoting. But then again, I’m just a virginal detective sleuther hot on the trail – what could I possibly know?
So on that note, Gratifly (whatever the hell that means), I’m gonna have to pull whatever shred of your festival card is left for the rest of this truth report out of left field. That’s right, you heard me. Hand it over! Along with the keys, your locker combination and the magic talking chalkboard while you’re at it. Oh yeah, and tell the mermaids to come inside from the creek already. It’s getting dark outside and supper is ready. Oh wait a minute, there weren’t any mermaids. Fuck…ok, just forget I said that! Anyways, I have a bold proclamation to make. Hold on a second. Gotta clear my throat, put the ole shorts on straight and channel my inner Shart-ye. Ok, ok: from here on out, I will no longer be referring to this filthy festival as “Gratifly” (as Mr. Big Boy Pants as you once thought you were). But will much more appropriately be deeming it with the noble, uplifting title of “our festival.” That’s right, we’re staging an action-packed after school special coup. And no, this isn’t some half-assed exercise in semantics. And doubly no, the Oxygen network does not hold the rights to that name, even if it is ridiculously heartwarming and/or moving. Yes, yes, it can be both heartwarming and moving simultaneously. I mean, why the golly fuck not? Ok great, glad we got that all straightened out. Wouldn’t want things becoming awkward as shit or anything. Ok…well…see you next year. Oh wait, you mean there isn’t going to be a “next year?” Hmmm…well how a-bout that. Wheeewww. Well then Mr. Big Boy Pants…I guess this means good-bye? Ohhh geeez, I’m really bad with good-byes too. So let’s just get this over with for fuck’s sake. You waddle off that way with your tail between your legs and I will gracefully power walk this way.
Wheeeewwwww. Gee whiz, well that wasn’t awkward or anything. What a weirdo that guy was. Am I right or am I right? Ok, even though that fake emotional send-off was a huge pain in the ass production, I will be using the word “Gratifly” just a few more times for old time’s sake. It’s ok – I’m going to quarantine the son of a bitch by sealing it off in double parentheses along with smiley faces standing guard for a few super layers of protection that may or may not be ribbed for pleasure. Alright then, carry on, carry on…
So anyways, where was I? Oh yeah, now I remember…
Whether or not = ) ((“Gratifly”)) = ) ever does return in the future, any transgressions on the organizers’ behalf should by no means undermine the celebration of life that was still able to poke its supremely weird head throughout our festival. In all fairness, = ) ((“Gratifly”)) = ) was responsible for essentially creating the container and gathering the accompanying pieces accordingly into place (whether soundly or not) for us hooligan banshees to fill in the filthy details with. But regardless of where this “who really made the festival” falls within a “chicken or egg” debate, once we are within the gates it’s up to us as a collective super-freak organism to make it work as energetically as possible no matter what. For if we can’t enable that small cross-section to somehow succeed, then how on Earth will we ever be able to gradually scale it up into a sustainable foundation that can survive/prosper in the “default” world? Jesus – the filth. Yes, I am well aware this must be a particularly monumental undertaking. Tell me something I don’t know. And so do most Tom, Dick, Harry or Sally or Jesse Raphael’s aware of such a heinously filthy enterprise. Ohhhh, it’s just so damn filthy.
But alas, we’ve gotta start somewhere, as extensively Captain Obvious as that realization may seem. And this form of festival, imperfections and all, was by no means the first nor will it be the last of its strange breed. I would certainly hope not. Besides, I’m just getting warmed up on this wild and wacky inner transformational fun ride! Surely there’s gotta be plenty more of these kind of secret getaway retreats all over the place, right? Right.
I mean, would it be bat-shit crazy to say that although each of these “experiments in freedom” has its own unique set of challenges, they’re quite possibly part of an evolving international superhighway? A network with stepping-stones across a nebulous, yet infinitely rich path into the unknown – aka “Bridge to Anywhere”????? Oooooooo-ahhhhhhhhhh. But c’mon people – surely these kind of unbridled science experiments dabbling in the uplifting of the human condition take a little time, right? Because dang it, Noah’s Ark wasn’t built in a day. And apparently the West wasn’t won on salad either! You know, just a lil FYI BTW. So for the sake of simplicity, let’s not put the big picture cart in front of the donkey horse. Let’s especially not forget why we came to our festival in the first place. And maybe I’m going out on an extra raunchy investigative limb here – but I’d be willing to speculate that every single one of these Transformational festival congregations, no matter how immediate or far-reaching their effectiveness may be, are not meant to merely be a symbolic act of defiance toward the old, broken down constructs of the once “real” world. Nor are they vicarious escape vehicles to temporarily get away from ourselves. Nor are they some kind of super-glossy “Life is Swell” promotional pamphlet you hand out in the stupid suburbs door-to-door. Just forget all that silly nonsense already. You know, maybe – just maybe – each festival experience, blemishes included, can be a grand ole opportunity to evolve out of anything that does not serve us anymore. And maybe – just maybe – they possess a set of cosmic tools that can enable us to find ourselves, each other and nature itself. Yeah, that sounds about right! Ones that can be used to chip away, even if rather slowly but also rather surely, at that decaying archetype of what it means to be “human” in this day and age. To be able to break down that filthy burrito (fear, separation, laziness, indifference etc.) of a conditioned edifice that has built itself up over the course of our lives to “protect” us from ourselves, each other and nature itself. A spiritual straightjacket, if you will, which has kept us immune to our exponential potential – individually and collectively.
Ohhh, so this is what I signed up for? Yes, I would certainly hope that is what you signed up for. That’s because the tools for this wild and wacky transformation stuffs were out there floating around, ya big dummy. Open your silly eyes. Our festival had a whole gaggle and then some of such tools, aids, guides, healers or whatever title tickles your fickle fancy. And just as the personal metamorphosis should be from an inside-out approach, so too does the true impact of any particular festival. It has to start somewhere. It can’t be held up in vain by the deterioration of the container itself. It has to reside within the synergy of lively interaction flowing through the inside of it. It has to come from…wait for it…wait for it…(big group gasp) – the people. Because we were the glue holding everything together; the true life force; the lifeblood flowing throughout its systems, arteries and veins; the crazy straw stirring the fuck out of that cosmic drink; the inspiration firing like synapses through an intricately connected network of participants. Dare I say – the voice of reason? However, in this festival setting, powerful conduits such as ourselves were by no means only accessible by way of preordained activities. Like hell we were. The magic could just as easily come through good, old-fashioned spontaneous human interaction sauce. Ohhhh, it’s just so tasty, isn’t it?! I mean, you just can’t take for granted “stopping to smell the roses,” being open to whomever you cross paths with. Yes – whomever! For these connections we create and cultivate on the spot together can be some of the most energetic agents of change during our festival experience right onward into our daily lives. The answers incarnate we’ve been looking for. Indeed, we were the very tools (no pun intended – pinky swear with sprinkles), which could not only allow us to chip away at what’s holding us back, but build the cornerstones of a foundation for how a festival model can possibly flourish no matter what.
All shenanigans aside, it’s hard to deny how our festival can still somehow, some way serve as a successive version to an open source rough draft, if you will. From my own vantage point (and although being a private dick does not make me the absolute knower of the truth by any means – shocking as that sounds) there was plenty to glean from regarding the way in which our festival contributed to a blueprint for how a model on this scale, or perhaps any, can still thrive even in the face of filthy adversity. For to forget that would be a crime wrapped in a damn shame in and of itself. Especially when you consider it was the kind of diverse, robust ecosystem where the co-creative spirit was alive and articulating through a synthesis of visionary art, conscious-minded music, compelling workshops, sacred ceremonies and fascinating installations. So enough with the speaking in generalities already. The proof is in the pudding! And our festival was oozing with a garden variety of bountiful milky exemplifications of luscious pudding goo. But damn it, I’d reckon to say a force of this goo-ey substance cannot be divulged by way of a single vile of truth serum. Woooooooo, apparently not! I ain’t gonna lie, this stuff be startin’ to wear off just a smidge-a-roo! So before attempting to sail any further across these waves of wacky truth, maybe I oughtta pay yet another visit to the secret tree house medicine cabinet. Maybe grab a few handfuls or twenty of Fruit Roll-up’s while I’m taking a good ole fashioned breather. So on that note, how about if we pick this hot doozey up a lil later and bring it alllllllllll the way home for ya’ll to see? Well super duper fantastic, you guys are the greatest! Hugs and kisses and whatever else you wanna throw in there. See ya next week!
JOIN US FOR NEXT WEEK’S BLISSFUL IDIOT EPISODE: “THE FILTHY TRUTH VOYAGE INTO LIGHT”