POSTED ON AUGUST 6, 2008:
Our guy does his part--and is rewarded with free live music and an appreciation of downtown Tulsa
Several months ago, when I originally perused the lineup for Diversafest, I yawned and said, "I don't think I am paying $30 to see this." I missed the 2007 version and heard good things from Tulsans. I was curious, but not $30 curious. More like $3.50 curious.
Later, after hearing The Roots would be headlining, I was up to $15 worth of curiosity, but still not at the $30 threshold.
I'm a working man. I can afford $30, I thought.
But I was steadfast. I didn't go back on my word and then buy a ticket, nor did I sneak in, but I did enjoy the event more than I originally gave it credit. Perhaps it was the free wristband. Perhaps it was all the digging through the trash I did to get the free band.
For the record: I'm not a dumpster diver.
The 90 percent of you who are committed to reading my column weekly know that I'm a bit of a recycling nut. That is, if you think recycling is nutty. Those of you who are reading me for the first time now know. My bins are full each and every first and third Wednesday of the month.
As you can imagine, I associate myself with other nutty recyclers, so I have an in with the recycling crowd.
Diversafest was interested in recycling at this year's event. If you were in attendance, you'd know why. There were mounds of trash in the streets. And here's the catch: roughly 75 percent of that "trash" can be recycled in Tulsa. This was the basis for enlisting recycling volunteers to assist in curbing the amount of trash produced by the Dfest crowds. A fairly simple idea, you'd think.
Before moving on, let's clear up the obvious--I was digging through the trash while wearing a Dfest bracelet. I was searching for aluminum and #1 and #2 plastics. I was wearing gloves--not something worth repeating in 100 degree weather.
Maybe I should have just told you all I got into to Dfest for free. After searching through the garbage behind Tsunami, I found a wristband wrapped around a piece of sashimi. It took me all of 45 seconds! What kind of sucker pays for Dfest? But, I can't lie to you. I worked my ass halfway off for that wristband and encountered much worse than any sashimi.
Okay, back to the simple idea of recycling. The plan was, anyone who volunteered for two four-hour shifts would be rewarded with a free wristband, the honor of knowing you were doing something to promote recycling and a cool "I am Tulsa" t-shirt. Free music, a shirt, and an opportunity to save the world. The Roots better keep their eyes opened for me! I'd be there after learning the details.
I showed up Friday evening for my shift only to discover that Dfest bandits had commandeered my station's recycle bins and tent. Someone, somewhere was enjoying a shaded game of shooting would-be-recyclables into a can. Those anti-environmentalists were ruining the plan.
"Cliff, can you imagine the look on those aluminum lovers' faces right now?"
I was upset to learn of such tomfoolery, but, at the same time, my curiosity about the music calmed those emotions. I did my part to collect cans and bottles between sets at the Blank Slate and Blue Dome Roadhouse Stage. My dancing and guilt over not recycling were growing directly proportionally. The music and bandits were all to blame.
Free to enjoy Diversafest on Friday night meant I got to check out some of the better music from the festival. Based on what I saw, the energy and music of Stillwater's Mayola stole the show. I'll let Josh Kline fill you in, as he is the music aficionado around these parts, with anything beyond that. A close second went to Ghostland Observatory from Austin, a band I had heard of only a day prior, whose light show over downtown was only bested by their electronic performance. Both will now be in my CD player for some time to come.
Come Saturday evening I was prepared to work my recycling shift. I had signed up for eight hours. The least I could do was work for half the time. And, I did.
My station's tent had not been returned, but my girlfriend, my right-hand woman, and I took it upon ourselves, since the bins had been located, to build a recycling station outside of the stage where Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, Zappa Plays Zappa and The Roots would be playing.
I snapped on my plastic gloves and dug in. While we were digging through half-eaten turkey legs attempting to save the recyclables, I wondered how much time it would take Oklahomans to get this right. Three bins: one for plastics, one for aluminum and one for trash. All clearly labeled. Was it apathy or illiteracy? Furthermore, the ground was a close fourth for amount of trash collected. The aluminum, plastic, and trash bin were all tied for first.
Is it really that complicated?
I will say, you will most likely never see me at an event collecting aluminum cans from a parking lot. I try to do my part, but cleaning up after litterbugs gets old, and I typically have priorities that trump picking up after people, but at Dfest I was committed. I wanted our station to kick all the other station's asses. Cristi and I were earning our free wristbands. As I collected arm loads of beer cans I wondered how long it would take for the lot to fill back up with litter from the Dfest crowd. I would later get my answer: about an hour.
After spending four hours digging through trash, directing Dfesters to the proper receptacle, and pouring out gallons of beer, I was ready to follow a thorough hand washing with a second hand washing. I was also a little embittered and my feet hurt.
I washed my hands, got a $9 sandwich and cleared my mind.
On a positive note, the seventh annual Dfest impressed me. It was well-organized and not only had a diverse range of music, but had venues ranging from smoke-free to all-ages to air-conditioned from which to choose. The amount of local talent also thrilled me. Tulsa's Recorder filled Exit 6C, while earlier Stillwater's The Uglysuit did the same next door at Blank Slate, and The Roots concluded the event with thousands of cheering fans at the Hadaly Stage. I so badly wanted to be in the Budweiser VIP area with my feet kicked up.
For the second time this month I missed Oklahoma City's Crocodile by minutes. Crocodile, you're invited to play at my home. I'll make you dinner.
I think Dfest will mark the last time I step foot in Continental, one of my favorite venues in Tulsa, because its doors will be closing in August. Goodbye, Continental. You'll be missed.
With that said, I can only be optimistic about our future. I had not been in all of Tulsa's downtown clubs, but I can now say I've experienced the vast majority, and I'm pleased. The Dfest area has a lot to offer. There's a great foundation for downtown development. I hope Dfest will not only continue to bring back record crowds in 2009, but I hope crowds were as pleased as I with the venues, music, and nightlife. So much so that the people keep coming back to invest beyond one weekend in the summer.
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