Thursday, October 8, 2009

Celebrating Fringes by Devan Malore

Here in Lexington the city ends and the county starts somewhere on Rt. 11 at a bridge crossing the Maury River.  As someone who lives by that river, I don’t live in Lexington, as much as I live on the fringes of Lexington

 I have a blue metal medallion on my travel bag that says in rough letters, “Fringe.” I got it years ago at the Philadelphia Fringe Festival in Philadelphia—a celebration of the fringes in art performance that goes on annually around this time. For two weeks, everyone from naked tuba players to young fit dancers in hammocks swinging from ceilings of old industrial buildings come together in unusual performance venues scattered around the city.

Whole tribes of us fringe folks are marginalized by choice, or by some act of nature. We live on society’s edges, often can’t get a mortgage, so deal with the underground economy of borrow, barter and creative salvage—which is itself trendy now.  Sometimes the fringe life seems to come from being born in the wrong place, wrong time, wrong family.

There’s a story in Hindu mythology that says we know times are changing quickly when more people get born into families they don’t feel they fit in. More freaks emerge to challenge those who can’t see what odd challenging times they live in. Darwin might say fringe dwellers are simply adapting well to change and challenge.

     I have affection and curiosity for city fringes and fringe folks.  Really interesting rusting machinery gets abandoned on city fringes. Even cars, parked as if they were sacrifices to the earth. Fringe flea markets and yard sales give out treasures cheaply. And, fringe folks often live in interesting living spaces.

Fringes are, for some, places to visit, but not to live in. Like middle class white guys wandering into jazz clubs during the Harlem Renaissance. You’re fine going there, having fun, seeing how the other half lives, breaking a taboo. But at daylight, you’re glad to go home and dress for work in an office.

Living on the fringe is risky, but nothing new. There’ve always been struggling artists, eccentrics, religious nuts, manic depressives, intellectuals ahead of their time, computer nerds before there were computers. Thoreau in his tiny cabin, Zen Haiku poet monk in his hut, Bill Gates or Nirvana out in the garage. Most sages, artists, eccentrics, I imagine, don’t get acknowledged. No one knows the name of the guy who invented toilet paper either, something we now can’t imagine living without.

It was great finding the Fringe Festival and exploring it. My faith in the creative potential of  human nature was reinvigorated  God bless the fringes and the freaks. May more of us explore the fringes and may freaks become friends. And please, give us odd artists and dreamers some money for our work!

Some day current fringes may be mainstream. Then, you’d able to say to your kids, “I was part of making change when things got a little rigid, boring, too serious.”

1 comment:

  1. Great post, Devan! You make me feel like the only way to be true to myself is to be fringe. All power to you.



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