we last left our Green Man adventurers wed just returned from
the great Free Spirit Festival in Maryland in June of last year. We
were now contemplating going to the Starwood Festival. Starwood, as
you all know , is the biggest, and arguably the most fun festival on
the east coast. Its also about a million miles away from us New
Jersians since its waaaay up in Sherman, New York.
To get all our
important stuff, camping and otherwise, to Free Spirit wed rented
an old mangy U-Haul open trailer. It was so nasty looking that on the
three-lane highway to Maryland we had two lanes to ourselves while all
the other drivers squeezed into one lane, as far away from us as possible.
It was also surprisingly expensive, as we were contemplating renting
the U-Haul trailer for Starwood for a whole week: both for cost consideration
and for the fact that none of us thought the ancient thing would actually
make it to Sherman and back. When we returned from Free Spirit, Eds
parents just happened to call us and mention that theyd moved
a load of something-or-other using their old trailer and wasnt
it a shame they hardly ever used it anymore. Huh? None of us even remembered
that they had a trailer. They gladly offered to loan us the trailer
for a week and it turned out to be bigger and in much (much) better
shape than the U-Haul.
So now were
packing to go Starwood and we have all this extra room in the trailer.
As were gathering Bryans Druid-y belongings from his loft
he suggests that since we have all this extra room we should take a
huge bolt of blackout cloth that he scavenged from a local dumpster,
possibly to do some on-site Christo-like draping sculpture. Sure, why
not? We also pack way too many clothes and toys and a extra small dome
tent. Stopping at Eds parents on the way up, we fill in the extra
space with the kind of necessities that parents always think you should
have: flashlights, toilet paper, duct tape, blankets and, to go with
the draping blackout cloth, some old deer netting Eds dad had
After the endless
drive to Starwood we unpack and settle down to meet old friends and
new ones and do the Starwood party thing. Paul Maurice stops by to tell
us that the Druids have the midnight ritual in two days. It will be
a Norse ritual representing the nine realms and he wants Green Man to
portray Utenheim, the realm of the giants. We agree, and sit down to
try to figure out a chant or drumbeat or something to make everyone
think of giants.
Well, two days
later, amidst partying and workshopping and friend-meeting, were
still thinking and we havent come up with a damn thing. Every
chant or drumbeat we think of is far too weenie to represent the bold,
huge, rowdy giants. Now, were starting to get a little worried
about this all the other realms seem to have their stuff figured
out and here sits Green Man still pondering.
4 in the afternoon on the day of the ritual and were brainstorming
with Michael and Denise, the wonderful folks we camped next to. Actually
the brainstorm was more like a trickle until somebody said Look,
the problem here is that were all visual artists and not musicians.
If we could just make something that visually suggested a giant wed
be fine. We thought of standing Bryan on a trash barrel but decided
hed have to move during the ritual so that wouldnt work.
We were talking about our old green man body puppet, and Michael said
Its a shame we didnt know about this before. If we
only had some poles and lots of material we could actually build a giant
puppet. Material? You mean like 30 yards of blackout cloth? Poles?
You mean like extra tent poles? Yep, weve got em.
So, as the sun
began to set on the evening of the ritual, we all looked at each other,
caught fire with instant inspiration, and started running around like
lunatics with tent poles, material, scissors and duct tape. The extra
dome tent we brought had shock poles which became the giants articulated
arms. The main body poles were scrounged from the awning poles of the
tents we were using. As the frame started fitting together we realized
we needed padding to suggest a body underneath the poles. How about
some deer netting we just happen to have? It worked out so perfectly
it was frightening. In less than an hour the body of the giant was done,
standing almost 20 feet tall. The bottom pole of the puppet rested in
a knapsack slung on the chest of the operator. It was hard to hold but
Michael is a master martial-artist and had just the strength and balance
needed to work the puppet. As darkness fell, Michael climbed into the
puppet, Denise and Ed worked the arms, and George the Giant was born.
As ritual time
neared, Ian Corrigan loaned us a big drum for Norma to play and all
that was left was to come up with a chant. We tried and tried but were
getting nowhere fast, so we decided that since wed been so amazingly
inspired so far in this venture, wed wait for inspiration for
the chant too, hopefully through the medium of our inspired Senior Druid
Bryan. So Bryan went off to meditate, and to ask the Gods, and particularly
the Giants themselves, for a chant or invocation.
wonderfully designed ritual started promptly at midnight. He described
each of the nine realms to the onlookers and then said There are
no spectators at this ritual. I want each of you to align yourself with
one of these realms. People walked around checking out the groups
at the realms until they found the one they were most comfortable with.
We giants got a bunch of mostly punk and goth looking beautiful kids:
perfect for that crazy outsider kind of giant energy. We worked out
hulking giant kind of moves for the kids to do. As we stood
George up a gasp went through the crowd. He truly looked awesome in
the firelight against the midnight sky.
Of course, the
ritual had started, and inspiration hadnt struck yet in the way
of a chant, but we still had faith, particularly because Bryan, in times
of need, has frequently been a mouthpiece for the other worlds. He didnt
fail us this time either. As our turn came and Utenheim was summoned,
with the realm of the dead wailing softly and the elves pounding their
forges in the background, Bryan raised his arms to the sky and shouted
Fuck You, We're Giants!
You could see jaws
drop all across the circle (including in Valhalla). What did he say?
You cant say that in a serious ritual. Well, you can if youre
a giant! To prove the point he said it again. And again, and the tribe
of punk and goth kids in back of us took up the chant. It was an amazing
magical moment to be long remembered.
Paul had each of
the realms chant, sing and make noise when they were invoked and continue
to make soft sounds in the background as each of the other realms were
invoked. Then, as he poured a massive beer offering to the world tree
all the realms got loud again. The image of Paul pouring out the beer
to the world tree by firelight while light-elves sang, the dead screamed,
giants cursed, dwarves did their thing, rain fairies tinkled, the smithy
elves hammered,all the nine realms combining to form a deafening din,
is something that will remain a vivid memory for those of us who were
lucky enough to be there.
As for George,
the Foul-mouthed Giant: he made it to the bonfire that very evening
to dance and was an honored guest at the childrens parade where
he didnt curse, but looked even more giant among the masses of
little ones. Finally, he marched in the processional to the huge bonfire
ritual at the end of Starwood and danced and whirled around the edges
of the massive fire.
Oh yes, and we
havent had the heart to take George apart yet. He lies, at this
very minute, in the attic of a barn in New Jersey , dreaming, perhaps,
of his Starwood adventures and waiting to be taken out, fixed up, and
trailered off to new rituals, plays, and parties. Anybody want to rent
a foul-mouthed giant?