Subject: Long review: Arizona Juggling Festival
Date:    27 May 2002 20:11:19 -0700
From: (Will Murray)
Newsgroups: rec.juggling

It began with a dream.  Several math grad students at Arizona State
thought it would be nice to go camping for five days.  What does this
have to do with juggling?  Good question.  Somehow word of a "First
Annual Arizona Juggling Festival" leaked to the Phoenix and California
scene; I'm much too professional to say who the canary was, but his
initials were "Ralph Tippins", and he has been suspected of harboring
mathematicians in the past.  So the Californians, all soft and lazy
from being coddled at well-organized festivals like Lodi and Davis,
began to expect a juggling festival.  Meanwhile, the organization from
the math people went something like this (with apologies for quoting
private e-mail, but like I said, it was forwarded all around

      > I don't think we have enough people going Thursday (Just
      Markus and I right?)

      > Is anyone else going Thursday? Who all is planning to go at
      > all ... I just know the campground will fill-up that weekend
      > and if we don't get enough spaces Thursday night ... ?
      > >most beer)
      > >
      > >>> there is another place called redrock campground and
      > >>> rv-resort, which i couldn't get hold of so far. phone line
      > >>> is f!$7ed-up. i think they take reservations.
      > >>>
      who else hasn't ?
      > >>> a few people could go that day and check out the situation
      > >>> to get potential friday+ overnight spots for the others.
      > >>> that's one possibility.
      > >>>
      > >>> > Cost:   Markus will fill in this info. tomorrow.
      > >>> > Utilities: Bring a fork!
      > >>> > have enough clothes with you.
      > >>> > Shoes: Good to have.  Especially when you are going down
      > >>> > stream in the river.

There were about eight pages of this; these are just the highlights.
Note the >>>>> indicating how many people this was passed around as
the math people desperately looked for an organizer.  Meanwhile, the
weekend was approaching, and this was Memorial Day in a place that was
ranked #2 on MTV's list of the biggest beach parties in the world
despite having no beach and no ocean.  (Full confession: Yes, I
watched that stupid show, but I was trapped in a lot of hotel rooms
last spring.  The pathetic thing is that I actually remember it.)

If this sounds like a recipe for disaster, then you weren't there.
The math crowd arrived, and the juggling crowd arrived, and they
quickly found many shared interests, like dogs, fire, alcohol, and jet
skis (and various combinations of these).  The math crowd soon learned
to juggle, and the juggling crowd soon learned to tune out when the
math crowd groused about how lazy their students are.  But the main
entertainment for all was Dave Davis and Ralph arguing.  These two can
argue about anything, from weighty life and death issues like passing
patterns to frivolous stuff like IJA politics.  In fact, when they run
out of things to argue about they argue for the sake of arguing about
whether or not they're having an argument.  (Voters fear not, though:
Dave is actually quite agreeable when Ralph is not around, and to make
up for my lack of financial support of the IJA I will volunteer to
keep Ralph away from board meetings.)

At some point we realized that in addition to it not being juggling
and not being a festival, we weren't even in Arizona!  We were
actually camping on the west bank of the Colorado river.  (And our
run-in with the cops may have occured in international waters for all
we know, but moron that below.)  Plans were quickly made for the
Second Annual Arizona Juggling Festival to be held in Lake Mead,

So what happened?  Heck, it was 102 degrees.  (Note for continental
readers: that is approximately a zillion.)  Lots of swimming (while
avoiding the maniacs on jet skis) and lots of drinking.  If the time
comes to nominate two delegates to a real British festival, I vote for
Jim Russell and Dan.  (Dan... Dan?  A good reporter always gets his
names right, but I never caught Dan's last name since the cops held us
separately for questioning.)  These guys showed up with coolers the
size of bathtubs full of beer, good beer, and they were more than
generous.  It helped us sleep through the racket of the speedboats and
jet skis, and cope with the fact that we didn't have rifles.  (As the
wise philosopher said, "What do you mean, five day waiting period?
But I'm mad NOW!")

We woke up early on Sunday afternoon to find that Monterey Martin had
slipped over the state line and somehow procured a jet ski.  How, I'm
not sure, because apparently they cost more than Jay Leno's car
collection (note for non-SoCal readers: Leno has several hundred cars,
and the crummy ones for weekday grocery runs are Lamborghinis) and
Martin's wallet had just been stolen, and the car was uninsured, and
as far as I know the guy doesn't even have a shirt to wear; through
three festivals I've never seen him wear one.  (Note to anyone
sniffing for dirt on board members: this ain't Martin Frost.)  Anyway,
we took turns zooming up and down the river (while avoiding the
imbeciles swimming), and thus began our problems with the fuzz.

I was driving with Dan behind me and I nearly slammed us into the side
of huge speedboat.  (How was I supposed to know they would sneak up
beside us just as I tried my very first 180?)  So we switched places,
and Dan was driving when we got pulled over for going top speed in a
zone that was apparently slow.  The Man asked us if we had read all
the No Wake signs, but of course we hadn't because at that speed they
were all a blur.  For some reason the cops didn't like that, and they
invited Dan aboard since he looked a little bloodshot.  In their
defense, Dan did have one eyeglass lens broken from our accident, and
he was hung over and high on diesel fumes, and the adrenalin was high
and his blood sugar level was three times normal, as he confirmed with
his little machine later.  (Dan is diabetic, but his normal insulin IV
drip doesn't travel well on jet skis.)  He told them this, and the
copper said "So of course you never drink," to which Dan made the
mistake of replying "no, actually I like drinking, but not right now."
So one cop chewed the fat with me on the ski while the others gave Dan
the third degree: the touching fingertips test, the follow the pen
with your eye test, and the write the alphabet in block capitals test.
Dan failed all these miserably, but, remarkably, this happened to be
the one little interval of the weekend when he wasn't actually drunk,
as he kept insisting to them and finally persuaded them to check with
the full-on breathalyzer.  So finally the cops had solid proof that
Dan was technically sober, while they had nothing at all from me
except confirmation that I was not wearing my driving glasses.  So in
a breathtaking display of logic, they took the key off him and said I
had to drive from now on.  Guess they missed the accident earlier.
Anyway, they let us go, but we were rattled by the incident and had to
go back to camp for a round of beers before the next spin.

Festival pictures on a web site?  Ha!  At some point Martin and Markus
and I contemplated a Playgirl spread of our posteriors all soggy and
reddened and bruised from skiing, but then in flash of modesty we
realized we might not be Playgirl material and besides, Martin and
Markus have their good reputations to think of.  (Also we couldn't
figure out how to photo one's own rear and in a flash of
heterosexuality we decided not to film each other.)

So that was what made this festival unique.  Of course, all the usual
stuff happened too.  Clubs were juggled.  Balls were scorned.
Patterns were invented, learned, and forgotten.  (Forgotten by me,
anyway.  If you want to learn them, ask Ralph.  Or ask Dave.  Just
don't ask both of them.)  Unicycles were ridden.  Dogs were confused
because each dog had always learned that anyone on a unicyle must be
his owner.  Torches were juggled until the ranger pointed out,
reasonably I guess, that the entire southwestern U.S. is dry tinder
just waiting to go up.

All in all, a good juggling festival/camping trip.  Cheers to the
organizers, and see you in Lake Mead!