i’ve been busy with classes–more than i would have thought–but have been getting to get out of town for a few days for carnival season in new orleans

tomorrow is krewe of chewbacchus. this year, my friends who have been part of the krewe for several years have created the subkrewe “electric kool ade acid trek,” a riff on the star trek original series episode “search for eden” in which space hippies take over the enterprise. they’ve made a contraption in which a tricycle becomes tricked out as the enterprise, but repainted with hippie dayglo flowers. the throws, constructed from love beads, have peace signs and chewbacca action figures. it’s an excellent, quirky mashup; and it got me thinking about the wild creativity that’s released when people actively play with, riff on, and version popular culture. the chewbacchus parade is adults in the pop culture sandbox, with glue guns, sewing machines, shrinky dinks: craft and humour


often we think of such exuberance about science fiction and fantasy as a bit embarrassing. people who go to comic con or spend hours and hours of their leisure time thinking about a sweet contraption for chewbacchus (or other creative or alt krewes, like ‘tit rex or du vieux) are too easily branded as geeks with too much time on their hands. and the social costs of actually creating and conversing about such “obsessions” (do notice the scare quotes) are very high outside of new orleans, where at least carnival provides an alibi. but i wonder: is not the dismissal of geeky, nerdy, or otaku practices, our easy laughing off of immersion in creative work or imagined worlds a denial of other possibilities for social life as well? in other words, the creative work of nerds at play in carnival might be a subset for the kind of work necessary to think and make otherwise, a heterotopia that could have implications that are somewhat revolutionary


i think that musicians–and here i mean real musicians, the ones who create something new from their materials, even if it is a mashup or cover–do something similar, if not compelled by the industry to become entertainers. but i also wonder whether our reliance on the products of the culture industry (and here i include the symphony orchestras and other panderers of an ossified high culture: sorry adorno, this category includes the music you loved more than it does jazz, which turns out to have been more radical than any shit you liked) has caused our creative prowess, our craftiness, to atrophy. we have all become the equivalent of the out of shape consumers of professional sports, stuck to our sofas. except we revile those whose amateur creativity (here amateur in the sake of doing it for love) as freaks


but could the answer to many social problems be found in our creative obsessions? (don’t laugh). at least it would lead to lot cooler music and public spectacles

so don’t call us nerds–or if you do, join us. after all we are saving the galaxy one drunken nerd at a time