The Bubble Guy and other characters
Music festivals aren’t just about the music, they’re about the people. Odd people, weird people, fascinating people—people you can’t find anywhere else on earth, because they’re here, doing their level best to add character and life to an event that would otherwise focus entirely on musicians and insects.
My first encounter with a local was at the ice cream stand, where the vendor—a youngish man whose face was already a little sunburned—noticed my media badge with the word “Minneapolis” on it, and immediately asked me whether I worked for KARE 11 or WCCO? Those are two stations that he watches regularly, he informed me, which obviously meant that we had a friend in common: Don Shelby. According to him, Winnipegans used to get their news from Detroit, but somewhere along the way the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce decided that the news coming out of Detroit was too violent. So they switched to news from the Twin Cities, where reports of death and destruction are tempered somewhat by ‘CCO’s “Good Question” segments and Julie Nelson’s smile.
Among the kiddies, the most popular person around is easily The Bubble Guy. The Bubble Guy’s job is to walk around making giant bubble clouds, and wherever he goes there is a pack of little kids following behind him, leaping and diving, trying to swat the bubbles out of the air before they tragically hit the ground. He might as well be throwing candy corn and Fruit Loops in the air. I assume that somewhere there is an equally large pack of mothers looking for their wayward, bubble-crazed children, but I haven’t seen it yet. Which leaves one other possibility: that the Bubble Guy has actually fathered all those children, making him the biggest stud in Winnipeg.
There are plenty of other colorful folk around here. In fact, I think I’m going to do an entire report on tattoos, which the warmth of summer has shown are carved into all sorts of clever places on people’s bodies. I mean, how does one tattoo an elbow, or the knuckle of your big toe?
It’s all just part of the grand mystery of humanity. I’m just lucky that many of humanity’s greatest mysteries appear to be visiting Winnipeg this weekend. When I meet them, you’ll be the first to know.