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all photos: Chris Svetlik
all words: Seaton Smith

We’re standing at the corner of Wilson and North Stuart, at the top half of the Taste the Best of Arlington festival. There are plenty of happy things, babies, puppies, and sunshine. For some reason though, I’m fixated on this fat kid on a bungee cord swing thing. I’m wondering if I can take a picture making fun of this fat kid, noticing the strained straps around his bulging stomach. His smile is what’s getting me. He is in a crazy glee. He is a fat kid who has a chance to float. It’s amazing. Why would I shit on his joy by writing about him?

“We can’t take pictures of kids right?” I ask Chris.
“I don’t know.” He says while he takes a few shots.

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I drank the night before and now, instead of drinking Gatorade and sitting in a dark inside area, I’m out and about and “enjoying the day”. I’m walking like a zombie. I feel like I’m walking in a desert, but like after my village was raided, and I’m at that part when I find the hero and fall and say some line like, “….they…killed…everyone…”

I’m trying to hide my shitty from Chris, who isn’t too chipper himself. Also drinking the night before. I want to ask what exactly he did, but I’m afraid hearing him get sick would make me get sick. So we move on.

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We started in the longest line, it’s to the restaurant, Carlyle. They are serving crab cakes. I ask a random super cute older couple. “Is that long line worth it?”

“Hell yeah!” They answer. And they walk away. If this was ten years ago they would have done the Toyota leap together. Old people in love.

We stand in line ready for the long haul. There are other booths along the line, which must be awkward. There are hundreds of people standing in line to not pay attention to you. We’re stopped by AIRE (Arlington Initiative To Reduce Emissions) where they have a big wheel. It’s a question game. They ask me environment questions and I see if can win stuff. I won’t bore you with the question. I lost. But I still got a cup of stuff. (stupid stuff)

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I got a pen that, every time you clicked it, it gave you another guilty environmental saying.

CLICK
Clean water is YOUR business.
CLICK
Consume Less. Recycle more.
CLICK
Sustainability = Savings
CLICK
Reduce your carbon footprint

This pen is a douchbag.

I look up and we’ve lost our place in line. Luckily this is Arlington and not that trashy so they let us back in, but not before they ask, “Was it worth stepping out of line?” in the most sarcastic way possible. Like on the level your mother would be when you bring home the person you might marry except it’s obvious they sell drugs.

The Carlyle Crab cakes were good.

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My god! I have to get out of here. I’m going to die. Chris is being more of a soldier than me. He’s talking to people. He’s not even supposed to talk to people, I’m the frickin’ reporter!

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Fuck it. I’m reporting now. Cause I’m a reporter. I’m at the The Best of Arlington, where a restaurants line up and compete for the prize of best dish! They have judges walk around eating. I don’t care if I’m repeating myself.

I see a clown, a woman dressed as a clown, and for some reason I find myself looking away in embarrassment. I looked into her eyes and I got the sense of crazy where happiness and joy should be. I mean this could be me and the headache talking. I don’t trust her. Clowns are the first people to start a riot.

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A lot of baby backpacks. Where you strap your baby to your back and trek like you’re in bible. There are hundreds people with their babies. For the first time though I really appreciate the back pack vs the stroller. You’re an asshole for you to push your stroller through a crowded festival. And your kid is an asshole for laughing when you roll over my foot.

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I heard something POP. Like explode pop. Like could be misinterpreted as a GUNSHOT pop. I was at an LA festival like early 90’s and heard a pop, it’s was mostly black people, and it was right after “Boyz in the Hood” came out, so after the POP everyone ran. It was spectacular, and what was more spectacular was how it just ended.

You ever wonder how a stampede ends? It just does. People are running, they look around, then just stop running.

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I’m sorry, anyways, now I was in Arlington, and Iron Man 2 just came out, and nobody was running, they didn’t even look around. But I looked around! For that crazy ass clown!

There’s a juggler. I want to hit the juggler in the face. I see through the veiled attempt at friendship. This dude is ten years removed from being lonely in high school. Now he’s lonely in the middle of a street fair….juggling. Sure I’ve done worse, I yell curse words into a microphone for attention. But at least I don’t juggle. Maybe I need water.

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EMS workers are here. They have a truck and on the back of it is the most comfortable looking bed I’ve ever seen a dead person could be on.

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There are elementary kids singing. I lean on a pole and watch. What I like to call the pedophile pose. Why are they wearing ponchos? Is this a protest to the Arizona immigration law? What socially aware kids.

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They are playing the congos too! Maybe it’s to bring awareness to blood diamonds? That’s a stretch. I guess maybe there is another reason. Like they are studying all of Latino history this week.

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There are a group of soldiers standing to side of the stage. Chris speaks with them. Dammit he’s really outworking me. I’m going to the booths!

I walk past the Whole Foods, cause they look like they’re serving coucous, I hate coucous.

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I end up at Thirsty Bernie with 3 different types of sausage. She looked at me and said, “Oh you NEED some sausage.” Now I believe that a lot of times people say things for their own agenda. She probably was just selling sausage and had said the line a hundred times that day. But I was still hurt, or maybe confused, how does one look like they NEED sausage? What’s the needing sausage look? Sure I’m skinny but I thought I was like a “I need a protein shake” skinny. Not “You need some sausage” skinny. Damn.

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Jaleo had a huge pan thing full of goodness. It looked really cool. Like when else can you use this thing? I can’t imagine that the restaurant has the high of a demand for anything that would require a cooking thing this big. I’m sorry I don’t have a better name for it than “thing.” I could say pan, but that would be like calling a Bono of U2 a “songwriter” when we all know he’s SO much more. He thinks he is anyway.

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Those soldiers from before are now onstage. They’re an Army band now. I find that annoying. Cause I specifically chose not to hate on them because they were fighting for our freedom. They are true Americans. We need to support. But fuck that! They’re in a band. I mean yeah, sure, everyone in the Army is important and all, but Front lines Army HAS to be more important than Arlington Band Army, right? If you had to choose which assignment you had to be in, would it be fighting in the Afgan mountains against Osama Bin Laden IAD’s? Or would you rather be the band that has to follow the poncho protesting elementary choir?

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There was a “Best “I’m begging to be loved” Award” to a certain restaurant that had a stage and microphone with the owner thanking the crowd for coming to his booth and then asking them to come to his restaurant. It was wonderful, it you love to see a certain kind of pathetic, you would have loved to see this man ramble on the microphone. I mean this wasn’t an announcement but more of in the tone of a man who has a bullhorn on the subway and he has a few choice words to say about Jesus Christ. Twenty minutes later he’s still going!

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I won’t name them cause I might eat there. He sold me.

So biggest hit of the festival. Lens crafter Eye glass man. That’s right. Fuck crab cakes. Fuck tapas. Fuck cupcakes. Fuck 8 different types of sausage. You put a man in a booth a costume and give him a beard, and offer free eye glass cleaner. And people line up! He was like Santa Claus, except if Santa used to be in a biker gang and is trying to get his life back together after an 8 year bid.

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I’m starting to wonder if I’m hung over or if I’m becoming a hipster douche bag. I REALLY don’t want that. I like things! I like happy.

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I look over and Chris is having a conversation with a man and his daughter. Now that’s cool. I walk over and find out they are talking about visiting Cuba. Oh god. Literally the most hipster conversation a man can have at a street festival.

Fucking Chris really out did me in everything today. I get some water and walk to the car.

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