The start of the Season of Shelter is always difficult. Food is scarce, the air is bitterly cold and brutal, and it seems like the warmth will never return. But about a moon after Giftmas, just when one’s high spirits are often beginning to falter, when the exhaustion and misery and bleakness of the next cold moons are still weighing heavily on one’s mind — the entire Wastelands erupts in a tremendous cacophony of music, laughter, dancing, fighting, and stories of all kinds. Even more than usual, that is. It is that rare and brief time when we manage to outdo ourselves in every regard, when The Wastlelands and everyone in it reflects on the past, looks to the future, and roars in celebration of itself: the Wastelands’ Birthday.
It’s always a long time before it can be written up. It’s a long time before anyone’s sober enough to remember how to write. And there’s always more than words can even put down. So, belated and besotted, here’s the basics of who did what where, and when, and how awesome it was.
FRIDAY, JANUARY 20
At the Atropine Stage in The Great Fissure, DJ Wiseblood Wisent started the whole affair with a set of the most appropriately inappropriate music for The Wastelands. Whether you call it soft rock, yacht rock, or wuss rock, it was there and in abundance — somehow, a strangely fitting way to start things off: such music could be called weak, insipid, unable to live up to its potential. Full of emotional drama, yet somehow shallow. The grime, the struggle, the realism, and the genuine heart of The Wastelands stood in a beautiful counterpoint to it all. Being presented with all we were not, affirming all that we are.
All poetry and significance got thrown headlong out the metaphorical window as Aposiopesis Fullstop took the stage, hosting another round of the guess-the-theme musical gameshow Radio Three Wastelands, where listeners compete over a total L$3300 in prize money. It was a tight match, with a four-way tie for first at the beginning that soon became a close competition between Ccindy and Myotis. Myotis had the lead going into the last round, but one correct guess from Ccindy tied the game, earning L$1500 to both finishers. After winning the first round but coming too little too late for each round thereafter, Harvey Jillybean won the last set — securing Myotis’ win of the entire competition. In addition to the L$30 she won for each of her winning rounds, Myotis took home the grand prize of L$3,000 and, presumably, a breathtaking assortment of vicious Mutant curses.
DJ Giuseppe Spicoli took the musical reins, playing an assortment of hiphop, mashups, and Things Uncategorizable — as well as his signature sendoff, “Screwjack Wrote This Song.” As the last notes faded into the night, the remaining survivors piled into the trusty, rusty BUS for a peril-filled journey to the barrens of Burnt Oak.
After various near-misses, random crashes, and heretofore undiscovered varieties of region-crossing bugs, almost everyone made it to the Drive-In intact. Perched on the roof of the projectionist’s shack, we watched CITY OF EMBER (2006), then closed out the night with a small assortment of miscellaneous shorts.
SATURDAY, JANUARY 21
Giu was the last to perform on Friday, and the first to perform on Saturday — taking the stage of the venerable Chaoseum in The Great Fissure to host Match Game. Two contestants, Dassina and Missy, sat onstage by Giu’s hand-selected team of six “celebrity panelists” – Sandusky, Cloudy, Apo, Dia, Cutea, and Zero. The panelists, in secret, filled in the blank in a sentence Giu provided — and the hapless contestants had to figure out how these deranged panelists thought, to try to guess what word they chose. Match Game always descends rapidly into baffling drunken madness, even for those familiar with the game. For someone brand-new to everything, such as Missy, one can only imagine what it was like. And yet, with just one match in the entire game, she still came away the winner.
Contestants and spectators alike then heaped into the BUS for another journey, this time to Kendo’s home in Malady Bog, where he DJ’d a mix of electronic music that was somehow both soothing and energetic. Lights danced in the air, Wastelanders danced on the mud, and the party roared on.
Krakov Letov then played live from the stage overhanging the Arena at the Potato Farm. Wastelanders and Flatlanders alike packed into the bloody metal cage of the Arena itself to continue their dancing and drinking. Ambient but upbeat electronic music filled the air, as the sun sank and stars filled the sky. Before long, however, the clear and danceable floor gave way to the usual assortment of mines, spikes, saws, and pits as Fight Night began.
DJ Rance Alva played his characteristically smooth tunes as the action below got rough and raw. All the usual bloody action of Fight Night was present in abundance, with the larger crowd and the din of the music only adding to the cacophony. In the end, three finalists remained – Leovinus Skytower, Dassina Andell, and Syruss Constantine. The final match was brutal, and the traps unrelenting. Leo fell first, taking third place and the L$250 prize. After being gouged by all too many saws, Syruss dropped, but picked up second place and L$500. And, again, the night’s winner was Dassina, who won the L$1000 prize and Fight Night trophy and badge.
Afterward, everyone unwound and re-energized with the ethereal industrial music of RedZone, live from London. When they finished, DJ Gomi Mfume played an eclectic assortment of tracks. Finally, DJ Circulating Serevi finished off the night with more electronica, and the crowd slowly dispersed — but some stayed talking long into the night.
SUNDAY, JANUARY 22
Sunday brought a slow start, as many or most Wastelanders were presumably nursing vicious hangovers – or hadn’t seen sobriety since Friday afternoon. DJ Sandling Honey began it all at The Junkyard Stage with a mix of tunes both familiar and forgotten. Diamanda Gustafson then gave a live performance on vocals and symphonium – a droning string instrument related to the hurdy-gurdy.
Next, it was off to the Court of Skulls in Cormac for a Cabeza Muerta competition. Also known as Skull Ball, Death Head, or Kik Hed, two teams of three vied to seize a rotting skull and throw it through either of two stone hoops mounted in the court’s walls. Ironblood Mechanique, Adya Seferis, and Apo formed the Scalps team, while Dassina, Leo, and Harvey Jillybean formed Skins. After a little preparation, the competition began in earnest – the players scrambling, stealing, shooting, and occasionally scoring, while Apo spun a set of ridiculous metal music in the background. The Scalps won the first match 21 to 10, with Ironblood as the high-scoring Chief and Dassina the high-stealing Thief. The Scalps also took the second round 21 to 6, Ironblood earning both Chief and Thief. In the final round, with all melee weapons permitted and otherwise no holds barred, the players dropped like the flies surrounding the skull itself. In the end, the Skins won the match 21 to 15, with Ironblood as the Chief once again, and Apo earning Thief.
Battered and bruised, all made their way back to the Junkyard Stage for the first-ever Junkies award ceremony. Though it was more slapdash than he’d intended, Neo hosted it as a way to recognize Wastelanders for significant accomplishments throughout the past five years of the Estate’s history, and to thank everyone for all their participation. A more thorough analysis of the awards will be in a forthcoming edition.
As the night wound down and the last squealing electric guitar note went silent, the remaining visitors gathered by the fire in The Heap proper, where the old storyteller Bartleby Ricantaur spun his tales in-character. He told a small assortment of fables, folk tales, and legends from distant lands as the sun slowly sank, while the revelers, one by one, made their way to sleep (or to possibly pass out.) And with that, the Wastelands 5th Birthday celebration came to an end.
Officially, anyway. As anyone can tell, Wastelanders celebrate their filthy ruin’t home every day of the year, through the things they imagine and re-imagine, and the stories they create, in-character and out. We may be experts at breaking down the unwanted past and rebuilding things anew — but that makes it all the more meaningful when we all step back, reflect on what we’ve done and what we’ve been, allow ourselves to admit how incomprehensibly awesome the journey has been, and go forth all the bolder into whatever madness lay in our future.
(Writer’s Note: The Pulp will return soon with the recap of recent non-Birthday events and highlights, or else Sandusky will probably bury me headfirst in the sand and throw spiders at me.)
(Editor’s Note: No spiders. Just arrows.)