Moxy Fruvous Diary #2

Moxy Früvous Diary #2

Subject: Moxy diary from the road-Ann Arbor
Date: 1 May 1997 03:15:07 GMT
From: (BLineRecs)


Subj:   Ann Arbour
Date:   97-04-30 21:26:03 EDT
From:   Moxy Früvous

Strange, which appetites the road heightens. At home I watch almost no television, as much out of principle as (I like to think) disinterest, even if it is a cultivated disinterest. But on the road I can't resist it. Partly this is because it dominates the hotel room. When you sit on the bed (the default position in a hotel room) you face the television, and it stares back at you with a stare that's as hard to igniore as a pair of eyes. And then the terrible moment comes: do I read (a dense, academic book with tiny letters that I swore I'd read when I left home, sort of a travelling Berlitz course really, so that the road is actually one big self-improvement program don't-cha-know) or do I mutter "Who am I trying to kid?" under my breath and press the magic button. If I've only been out on the road a short time and my road resolutions are still strong, I'll read. But then a few weeks into it the temptation is just too great. I turn it on at first as a treat, a reward for the hard day I had. Then I turn it on to get the hockey scores, then to catch up on events in Manitoba. Eventually I'm turning it on for tips on dog grooming. Each time the television sets its claws just a little bit deeper, making it harder the next time to resist, until finally resistance is futile. Clarity, productivity, and original thought have lost, and television has won.

(It becomes clear when you spend a night in a hotel room what the essentials of our culture are - a bed, a shower, a telephone, a television. Everything else can be done without, at least temporarily.)

Another appetite of the road, one I don't mind as much, is the oldies station. Like television, I don't listen to oldies much at home, maybe because I know the radio stations in Toronto. But oldies stations are a constant in every town, they're fairly consistent in quality and generally free of obnoxious disc jockeys. And because the songs are so familiar, they feel like comfort food for the ears. You can hear great lyrics like "Instead of dog-gone/I'll be long gone", or "Backfield in motion/ Baby's got a penalty". You can also hear Beatles' songs, and for some reason Beatles' songs on the radio always make me happy.

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Last night, after our show in Ann Arbour, I took in the Nude Mile at the U of M. It's a tradition that started with the cross-country team years ago and now has become a campus-wide thing, although of course participation is optional. It happens on the last day of exams. There's not much to it - all you do is take off your clothes and run a mile. This attracts on-lookers, and so by midnight there were five thousand people on the sidewalks and on the street and on the steps of the Museum of Art and hanging from trees, all waiting for the nude people.

At 12:24 the nude people arrived. They didn't arrive all at once but in clumps, leading one to envision some sort of staggered release system at the other end. There were male nude people and female nude people, but the male nude people seemed to predominate by about a two-to-one margin, probably because the men's lacrosse team seems to have about a hundred and fifty members. Everyone wears sneakers, but beyond that people customize as they will. For some reason there were a lot of sombreros - maybe the tradition has advanced to the point that they can have things like the "Mexican Nude Mile". There were quite a few people wearing big black wigs, perhaps the result of a bulk purchase. Some people, usually big guys with beer bellies, wore capes and had the Superman logo drawn on their chest. One guy was wearing the Canadian flag and everyone around me said I should go up and talk to him, but I didn't know where the conversation would go after I said "Hooray for Canada!". My personal favourite was a pair of antlers, which seemed perfectly natural in that context and leant a pagan quality to the evening, if it didn't have one already.

Many people had written things on themselves but these were very hard to read because everyone was running so fast, usually with a look of terror on their face. There were some people who had written things on themselves who were walking very slowly, but for some reason I didn't want to read what those people had written. The slogans I remember are "Go Blue" in blue across a woman's stomach, and "Kiss this Ass" on a guy's back, with an arrow pointing to his ass, in case there was any confusion as to which was his. Warpaint was a popular option and worked well.

I was standing with five students from the university and it was funny to see their reaction. We would watch for a minute, and then one of them would point at someone and yell, "Hey! That guy's in my English class!" Then we would all stare silently at him as he ran past. I think that's why they have it on the last day of exams, so that the memories will fade a bit before classes resume in the fall.

At the end of the run about a thousand nude people gathered on the steps of the Museum of Art and sang the school anthem, a stirring moment both for the students and for fans of 60's musicals. The event seemed to be over at that point but people didn't disperse right away, they just started mingling, as if it was one big clothing-optional cocktail party. Nude people, apparently completely caught up in the spirit of the event, would wander up to groups of clothed people and try to make casual conversation, which of course failed miserably, but which always ended with someone saying, "You must be freezing!" Finally the nude people were, in fact, freezing, and so they made their way in large unruly bands toward whatever dormatory their clothes were stashed in.

Our little claque of six people, possibly through some sort of sublimated desire, suddenly realized that we were all intensely hungry, and so we set off to find some Mexican food and discuss our new theories on nudity. Possibly in sixty years nudity will be so commonplace that it won't even be noticed, and we will look back on the Nude Mile in Ann Arbour in 1997 as the beginning of something, and marvel at an era when nude people could draw a crowd of five thousand.

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