The Bay View South Shore Frolics is a traditional celebration dating back to the smoky, smelly cave people who used to dwell among the cliffs of the South Shore of Lake Michigan. Nowadays the Frolickers, when not frolicking lakeside, can be spotted on the freeway in their over-sized pickup trucks, and SUVs without turn signals, elbowing smaller vehicles around, and listening exclusively and loudly to Hate-and-Run AM Radio. They are proud of what they are not, for that's really all they are, to paraphrase Don McLean. Think of the word "Frolic" and then consider the appellation as applied to South Shore "frolickers". It is a frightening juxtaposition of opposites. The ox-y meets the moron.
The three-day Frolic festival is free, that is, you don't have to pay to get in, but not "free" in the same sense as "land of the free". One Frolic evening, when I was still new to the area, I went down to the lakeside, and was about to sit down to enjoy a concert by the Milwaukee Policemans' Band, taking a seat in the back row, on one of the backless wooden benches set up in front of the stage. A fat, slobbering sow-like woman, with the down-turned mouth of a shark, approached me, and barked "you can't sit here". Noting that there were no signs or barricades, I asked, "Are the seats reserved?". "NOT FOR YOU!" she practically screamed, wiping the drool from the corners of her shark mouth with the back of her fat, red hand. Out of courtesy, I got up, and out of beligerence, I remained standing directly behind the seat, which remained empty, for about 20 minutes, while she glared at me with her angry red sow-eyes. When the band took a break, I wandered elsewhere, to see what else the Frolic Experience had to offer for free. Rally 'round the flag, boys!
They have a parade. It's not like a 4th of July parade. The 4th of July Parade is full of joy and community organizations, local bands, and patriotic sentiment. The Frolics Parade is run by the Bay View Lions, a closely guarded clique of, well -- Lions. Community organizations who want to be in the parade must pay an entry fee to the Lions. And yet, some of those in the parade are on the payroll. Where is the fine line drawn between entertainment and community service? Only the Lions know. The Frolics parade leaves the street of the parade route littered with wrappers, bottles, fliers, melted Popsicle, and baby diapers. The people living on the parade route are free to enjoy the parade for days afterwards.
There is a hillside overlooking the South Shore Beach. It is on this incline that the Frolickers set up their bed-blankets, stake out their own little domains of public turf, and experience on Saturday -- and again on Sunday, the Atomic Fireworks. It's a traditional fireworks display, only deployed much lower than usual from the beach. The explosions seem closer, blindingly and deafeningly closer than a traditional fireworks display, the closeness emphasized by the audience's elevation on the slope of the hill. From the stage, a master of ceremonies "narrates" the Atomic Fireworks, commenting on each rocket's red glare, and encouraging the audience to "Put Your Hands Together" for the benefit of the show's sponsors.
After three days of beer, a parade, and two sessions of Atomic Fire Works, it's not as surprising that some South Sider, eyes bleary with frolic, would commit this vicious attack on his cassette collection. Purging it of the music Unfit to Frolic By. What were his criteria? Seen in the holy light of the Frolic Fires, some things must be sacrificed, left shattered in the street for the early light of dawn to discover.
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