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Notes From the Underbelly

The Wiccans Did It?

By Eric A. Carlson

"... but isn't that what a fair is all about? Commingling. Camaraderie.
I personally love the crowds, be it in Hong Kong, Bangkok, or San Jose ..."

--El Rhondda Ystradyfodwg, a.k.a. Mr. Y (Pagan)

THE TAPESTRY ARTS FESTIVAL was in full swing in downtown San Jose. I had just reached into my camera bag--and discovered my camera to be missing. Just prior to this I was speaking to two Pagans, Marina and Tezra--probably Wiccans. It occurred to me that they had cast a spell on my trusty Minolta, or on me. But no, it must have been a pickpocket. I duly informed two of San Jose's finest, and glumly walked away. Suddenly, it occurred to me that the bag I was carrying in my right hand, full of trinkets, was too heavy. Indeed, the camera was inside. Those Wiccans can play funny games with your head.

You will find all manner of fine gee-gaws at this September event: handcrafts, jewelry, leather goods, paintings, sculptures. And of course, beer and food. And products. One fellow was hawking a large misting tent, which I can attest worked like a charm. I took several photographs through the mist--an ethereal fuzz in tune with the New Age ambience.

Many organizations around The Valley (it's not politically correct to say San Jose anymore) set up booths to espouse their own brand of reality or city function. The Baptist booth was located just down from the Bay Area Pagan Assemblies Booth. Probably too close for comfort for both organizations.

I met four Pagans during the two days I attended this event: Mr. Y, Jim, Marina, and Tezra. Mr. Y was brought up in a formalized Jesuit tradition. Jim was, at one time, a missionary in Africa. These folks seemed to be doing just fine as Pagans--it was clearly their bag. And I got a lot of interesting literature on Pagans and Wiccans. Not that I am converting from my Heathenism faith.

The Baptists seemed to be happy, decent people, but the folks running the Nader & LaDuke booth projected a glum aura. I picked up a couple of Nader buttons and contributed a dollar to the campaign to try to cheer them up. I suspect they were nervous about being near the Pagan booth. Thinking, perhaps, of unsavory connections voters would make between their candidate and demonism?

Not far off, some Aussies had set up camp adjacent to the Children's Discovery Museum. They brought with them several inflatable buildings, including a large one resembling the Sydney Opera House--big balloon tents manned by attractive Australian women. The Land of Oz, despite being a burned-out desert with a beach on either end, is a civilized place. I took photographs of the women docents, asking them to say "Pommy Bastard" just before taking their picture. Most of them smiled at this jape, and one sheila informed me of the etymology of Pommy--it seems POM stands for Prisoner of Her Majesty (relating to the English prisoners transported to Australia's shores). This exhibit was called the Bank of America Down Under Tour. I purchased a stuffed koala bear in a can, and then proceeded back to the main thoroughfare of booths, food and street music.

The absolute pineapple of success, as far as I was concerned, was having my photograph taken with a faux Las Vegas showgirl. Josie Miller (a member of American Musical Theatre, and a truly lovely woman) was dressed up in feathers and spangles to advertise an upcoming production of Barry Manilow's Copacabana. For one lousy dollar, an ordinary Joe such as myself could pose with her. Curtis Greenwood took the photo--and there I stand, next to a woman resembling a Bird of Paradise.

Birds of Paradise in San Jose. Red beans and rice. Music. Australian women. Taking all things into consideration--this was an event of considerable merit. And Wiccans. Let's not forget the Wiccans.

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From the September 14-20, 2000 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2000 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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