SpinTalk | Surviving Roots, part 3:

Spintalk Roots 3

A story about wet shoes, poor dietary choices, sleep deprivation, dehydration, ancient camping equipment, and persevering against all possible odds.


Back to Tara:

So I stopped in the tent the next day to say hello and we proceeded to BS and shoot the breeze with a causal indifference that would have made a coffee shop feel like a funeral home. We talked about fire safety, programs for the arts, insurance and underwriting, and what is currently in the works for promoting safe and lawsuit free fire instruction. I also got some pretty cool free stuff out of the deal. What I loved about this encounter was how genuine and unassuming it was. Here’s Tara McManus, one of my biggest heroes, champion of fire safety and slayer of fire department licensing programs, talking to me as if we’re the oldest of friends, like two old ladies sitting on the porch playing rummy. Words really can’t entirely describe this experience, but let’s just say it was profound and wonderful. This was probably the highlight of my Roots weekend.

After that I spent a lot of time wandering around, making a general nuisance of myself, and bemoaning my incessantly wet shoes. I met with random strangers who came in and out of our camp and befriended a few of them. I attended spontaneous flow jams in the woods, or tired to at least (someone must have told them I was coming because they quickly disbanded as soon as I got there). I spent a decent amount of time having intensely silent philosophical discussions with a praying mantis named Clyde, who stayed with us for the duration of the festival (seriously this guy was there all weekend). And I watched the sun rise and set at least twice while getting scarcely any sleep in between.

just resign yourself to mindless fun because you don’t have any other options left.

An old adage says, "when it rains it pours," and when you’re at Roots, it does that and then keeps pouring. Although the rain did hold off for most of the workshops, it was relentless in the evening. I spent a lot of time hooping out in the wet because there was nothing better to do, and at a certain point you just resign yourself to mindless fun because you don’t have any other options left.

Return to Roots was one of those rare gems that causes you to reexamine your relationship with with nature and how much it hates you.

On the whole, there were a lot of things that could have gone better: the weather, the music, the workshop schedule, and small tent sizes for workshops to name a few. I talked to a lot of returning Roots veterans during my stay and they echoed these sentiments, adding that things just didn’t feel the same and that the social dynamic and overall atmosphere seemed a little off. Despite these setbacks, we all still managed to make our own fun out of an otherwise unfavorable set of circumstances, and I think this is what ultimately brought everyone together. The overarching impression seemed to be that while the weekend could have gone more smoothly, everyone was hopeful for next year.

Put simply, Return to Roots was one of those rare gems that causes you to reexamine your relationship with with nature and how much it hates you. It forces you to appreciate the simple things in life: bathing, not having sunburn, a house with a roof and waterproof walls. We all went to Roots hoping to get back to nature but what we didn’t realize was that nature was determined to get back at us (thank you global warming). All jokes aside, after some intense mandatory self flagellation about my own poor work ethic and laziness with my props, I did walked away genuinely inspired to pursue my craft further and returned to my roots as a flow artist and a person…possibly more literally than I thought because I am still finding sand in EVERYTHING!

P.S. For anyone still wondering, my tent did stay dry for the entire weekend and I was one of the few people who did not get flooded out. Whose laughing now?


For more coverage on Return to Roots Gathering 2016, fun videos and other general nonsense, follow Michael on Instagram.


SpinTalk | Michael Krueger | @cheaptrickz | Philadelphia, PA

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