IT'S A MISTAKE to wear teal to Last Thursday; first, because it coordinates with the porta-potties—and worse, 'cause it's the same color as the polo shirts of the event's rent-a-cops. In case you haven't heard, NE Alberta's art crawl free-for-all has been under (attack? Admonition?) from the mayor's office, which wants it to end earlier and span fewer blocks ["The Last Last Thursday?" News, June 26]. Friends of Last Thursday, the usual marshals of merriment, have walked off the job, leaving key logistical work to a crew of potbellied mercenaries in teal. But hey, don't look at me just 'cause I'm wearing this color and holding a notebook.
Oh, what the heck. Since you're already wary, I may as well help enforce order. You say the city's main gripe is overcrowding? Then as your honorary rent-a-cop, I'll decide who is and isn't invited back to Last Thursday:
Vendors, do you mind answering a few questions? Good. Did you make these things you're selling? If yes, you're safe. Especially you, retired airport security guy, who jigsaws dorky wooden animals and glues on googly eyes. Dude with the bone-and-rock mobiles, your pieces beg conversation. Painters of all stripes selling originals: at ease. Guy who hews those twisty, evil steel knives that look like they could kill a White Walker, you're safe... from apparently everything. But if you've made soap or candles that are supposed to be fragrant, can they smell crazy-delicious like Rex Apothecary, and not like Pine-Sol? Thanks.
If you didn't make your stuff: Is it handcrafts from your ethnic country of origin? Fair enough, African basket and drum seller, and Afro-centric hat lady—we need the diversity. But you, guy whose T-shirts still have sizing tape stuck down the front, and you with the plastic-bagged jewelry... consider yourself caught. Oh, and pro tip for the kids selling real animal tails: Don't let your bushy-tailed German shepherd share the blanket with your wares... it only makes us sad.
Straight-up yard salers, you ruin it for everyone—unless you are one of the following protected classes of used-goods purveyors: pirates, fashion-hippies, burlesquers, and Burning Men. As the pillars of the Last Thursday circus tent, your castoffs are manna to the fratty but freak-curious masses. A special yo-ho-ho to the pirate people with a life-sized mummy, and a "right on" to the hippies who dance with their up-cycled patchwork jackets, sing-songing, "Handmade... handmade..." This is the magic the tourists (don't) pay for.
Now for music: Young sloppy bucket-drummer, your three elders are your betters; ask them to swap shifts, form a troupe, or train you. Crappy middle-aged jam bands playing bad originals, you are bumped for the high schoolers with mannequin heads on their amps, pre-teens hilariously covering "Whiskey in the Jar-o," li'l Kimyas (next-gen Kimya Dawson clones), and any skilled old duffers who play requests. Aztec and flamenco dancers—love it. Feel free to stomp on the feet of any other acts whose noise encroaches on your block. Uke players, let's duet or duel—and DJs spinning top 40, GTFO. No offense, but this is neither the time nor the place; you're 86'd to "da club."
Oh, I almost forgot: galleries! You're in, of course! Especially the ones located between NE 27th and 30th that the city preposterously proposed to exclude. Guardino's current show of Alison O'Donoghue and Sara Swink (pictured) weaves stylized illustration and South American-ish clay totems with PDX brunch-and-bird fetishes in a way that—amazingly—doesn't feel too familiar.
But the Last Thursday Spirit Award goes to... the L.O.V.E. bikes (four cycles emblazoned with those letters on both sides), who smoothed out the city's heavy-handed street-reopening procedure by rolling in front of a huge convoy of cops and "tealies," blasting a boombox and dancing to turn the show of force into a parade. Their antics undoubtedly helped the street reopen without a skirmish. Many Alberta freaks dress in capes and tights—but only a few come through and save the day.