I went to “Crawfish Fest 5: Taste of Louisiana” in Clinton Square on Saturday. It was overcast and breezy, which wasn’t very pleasant. On Salina Street, at the entrance to Clinton Square, the first thing I came to was a tent that was selling tickets for the food. You couldn’t pay cash; you had to buy tickets. Well, hum, how about that? So I buy five dollars’ worth of tickets, not knowing what I’m going to want to eat.
The second thing I came to was half the booths for the festival. They were up on the grassy area behind a curb on the west side of the square. They were, in fact, completely inaccessible to wheelchairs. How about that? The downtown summer festivals attract more people in wheelchairs than any other event I attend in the course of a year. People who are disabled like outdoor festivals—and the City of Syracuse does not plan for us. Syracuse, you will be getting a call.
So I keep traveling and the next thing I see are four police officers standing on the corner talking to each other. They are wearing black shirts, black pants, black shoes, black belts and black gun holsters. (“The Blackshirts were Fascist paramilitary groups in Italy . . .”) The only color is the yellow on the handle of the Taser gun. There’s an attraction for you.
Then I come to a booth that is selling some kind of pastry. The program says you can get a sample of anything for $1, so I sample this. Some nice fat ladies are rolling out yeast dough, cutting it in squares, deep-fat frying it and serving it up sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar, and it is good. I could go for about twenty of these, but don’t. Just because I’ve given up my vegan diet doesn’t mean I’ve lost all sense of what is healthy. (http://annecwoodlen.wordpress.com/2012/05/07/my-mothers-meatloaf/ )
At this point the sun comes out, which is really, really nice. Hey, this is Syracuse and we’re jonesing for sunshine. Then I turn and see another corner which also has four police officers standing in a group talking to each other. Okay, Chief Fowler, you and I need to have a chat. The Syracuse Police Department has a very bad image in this community. We do not like police officers. Here and now, in this, the first festival of the summer, you have a chance to do something about that.
Direct your officers that unless they are involved in police business that is occurring in the present moment, they are not to speak to each other; they are to walk alone. A solitary police officer, hanging out in the public square, is approachable. I do not, personally, know a single human being who will talk to “the police” if two or more are standing together, but most people I know would chat up any police officer who is standing alone. If you want us to treat you as nice, helpful human beings then you must let us get to know you as such. Be askable. And get rid of the black shirts; go green.
It is now time to contend with the main reason for this festival: the crawfish. Ew-w-w! I wheel up to the table and order a sample, which is two, served in a paper box. They are disgusting—but I have never let a little thing like total grossness scare me off, even if they are laying there with their eyes bugged out and their legs sticking all over the place. They look totally ready to climb out of the box and walk across my hand. EW-W-W!!
So I look at the lady behind the table and ask, “Can you tell me how to eat these things?”
“No,” she says.
Uh, okay . . . not exactly working on customer relations skills are we?
So I turn to the two guys waiting next to me and ask if they know how to do this. The first guy says, “Not me. I’m a virgin here.”
The second says, “Yeah. You twist the tail off then sort of squeeze it and suck out the meat.”
By then the “no” woman has gotten a young man from the boiling pit in the back and he is telling me, “Twist the head off—.” Okay, heads or tails, which is it? I withdraw to a distance where I can have a little privacy as I make a fool of myself, and twist and squeeze and suck. What I get for this effort is one bite of meat that is cold and too highly seasoned for my tolerance, but, okay: I’ve done it. I’ve eaten two crawfish. Now I want some real food, so . . . (To be continued)