thinking with pictures

Food and music – simple fun or complicated conjunction?

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Annual ticketed event for live music, local wine and brew, hot food - or is there more to it?

Annual ticketed event for live music, local wine and brew, hot food – or is there more to it?

At first glance there is nothing notable: people in nice cars come from near and far to the afternoon of live music, tasty food and drink. They buy an entry ticket for the day and take in the sights, sounds, smells and flavors responsibly, remaining isolated consumers in an aggregate defined by the orange fencing all around the harbor parking lot and the sheriff’s deputies at the edge. But on wider reflection this way of spending time, money and fuel to get there could be regarded as strange. For the musicians, the event organizers and those setting up, controlling gate and monitoring communications, as well as cleaning up, not to mention food and drink vendors all of this effort is the pinnacle of the service economy: rather than to produce a tangible good, an experience is being shaped for those who pay to play in the space of this event. For the ticket buyers the logic of attending is seemingly straight-forward, too: it is to spend the time engaging is pleasurable activity, or for more goal-oriented attendees it is a chance to discover new foods and drink and music – a sort of life-long education outing; or possibly a search for a special flavor, dish or method of presentation. And if there is some social connection or family relationship to performer or vendor or organizer, the rationale may include this social layer, too. A few may mildly feel their participation supports local arts and culture, even if the offerings are not specially to the attendee’s taste. Still others may have worked very hard for their position of leisured time and money and not knowing exactly their own mind when it comes to life other than gainful employment, they may look around for clues and arrive at the idea that attending such events of food and music is what a leisured person *is supposed to do* or one imagines this is the life of ease and pleasure – to motor to a place with the expectation of tickling the palette and pleasing the ears together with other beautiful people who have achieved something of a charmed life. By contrast, someone with little free money or time could see the intersection of tasty treats and delightful rhythms and dismiss the significance of it, baffled why a person would spend the transportation time and cost, as well as price of admission when the time and money could or must go elsewhere by the standard of a laborer’s days. Stranger still, when using the lens of a religiously streamlined person of little earthly means but whose interior life is deep and strong, all the hubbub must look to be dissipation of effort, energy, precious hours in one’s life, not to mention the opportunity cost of putting money here when it could do good for others in different ways than this.
By placing the picture is a wider frame of discussion that the initial recognition and regard of what is represented, it becomes possible to take something familiar and make it seem foreign or unfamiliar. In fact “de-familiarizing” the everyday parts of one’s world is one half of the process for getting to know people and places very different to one’s own times. The other half of the exercise is to “de-exoticize” others ways of living; taking something that first seems outlandish or improbable and learning enough of the meaning and intention so as to make sense of it; a cultural logic that recharacterizes the actions and makes the exotic seem normal and even expected and desired.
Thus equipped with the power to de-familiarize something ordinary and the power to de-exoticize something that seems weird or even repulsive, one can then look at the annual Wine and Food day at the harbor ground close to Lake Michigan and find a razor-sharp view of the proceedings – seeing it as normal and natural on the one hand, but at the same time a little odd, too.


Author: gpwitteveen

Better Outreach is my aim. See to know more.

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