It's a quiet day here in Ann Arbor. Which is fine, really, considering the whirlwind of activity we've had over the past few days. We kicked it off with a visit from former KWF-ers Rainey and Graham, which was oodles of fun. We even had our first soiree at our new digs on Sunday, with a mini-fellowship reunion. Charles Clover, John Bacon and the Butters gang joined us all on our fab deck for some noshing. (But where-oh-where was Thomas Kamilindi? No one knows...) Plus, we got to reunite with Gail Gibson and Rich Foley over the weekend, too. Good times! (Although -- and don't tell this year's incoming class of fellows -- it looks like re-entry into the 'real world' hits kinda hard post-fellowship.)

Then, on Monday, our great friends Kevin & Kathy O'Connor came into town with their girls Grace, 3, and Keira, 2. Poor Gracie wasn't feeling too well, but we had as much fun as we could, which involved lots of pizza and popsicles and napping and being silly. You know, our usual early week routine.

And as if all of that excitement wasn't enough, last week was also the infamous Ann Arbor Art Fair. Or Fairs, if you want to get all technical about it and, since people take this stuff seriously, you should. As Townies, we are under some sort of obligation to dread said art fair. Partly, I believe, for the role it plays in further diluting the definition of "art," but mostly because it means something like 1/2 a million folk tooling into our tiny little town and making it difficult to get to anything for several days.

As you can imagine, it took very little to get me in the role of grumpy, belabored local. Especially with the hot sun beating down and the crowds of post-menopausal women in flowy outfits. But Graham and Rainey insisted we had to check it out, if only for the sheer entertainment value -- and so we did.

I took my camera along with me to capture some fine shots of the wares for sale. Some people get very touchy when you take photos of their products. Relax, my friends, I can assure you that the reason I'm taking them is NOT because I hope to recreate whatever the hell it is later on. It's merely because words are woefully inadequate to describe to others what exactly you've done with that old teacup.

My favorite thing about art fairs is that there is a grand proliferation of crap on a stick. People will put the most amazing things at the end of a stick, call it yard art and women will flock from the suburbs and empty out their purses. I'm telling you, next year I'm setting up a booth with turds on a stick and I guarantee you someone'll think it's adorable. And it's probably your mom.

Here's the thing, people. If it's on a stick, it's not art. Plain and simple. Otherwise, people would be collecting Monets-on-a-stick. In fact, I'd go so far as to say there's a tenuous historical connection (if any) between fairs and real art. At fairs, a cow made out of butter could constitute art. (And, in all fairness, probably takes a lot more skill than painting a terrifying face on wood and attaching it to -- you got it -- a stick.) I'm having trouble imagining Leonardo setting up a booth next to a guy selling crushed velvet hats in order to demonstrate his fresco prowess.

Rainey said a friend of hers notes that if there's fried dough anywhere present, it's not art. The Ann Arbor Art Fair? Funnel cakes.

Now, to be fair, there were some really lovely things to look at. I was particularly fond of a four-foot-tall brass abstract sculpture of a hare. Really. But for some reason, my bastard of a husband wouldn't shell out the eight grand to take it home. Let's hope he's playing a trick and I'll get a nice surprise on my birthday.

It seems there is the original Ann Arbor Art Fair, a juried exhibition that is set up around North University. Then there are three other separate art fairs that take place in different parts of town at the same time. It's all within walking distance, so it's easy (tho' daunting) to get to all of it.

Oddly enough, the fair went from Wednesday to Saturday evening at 6, as it does any year. Seems to me you're missing a whole slew of potential stick-buyers on Sunday, but that's just how they roll.

Thus, Saturday evening, the hard-working artists spent hours dismantling their booths and it was amazing to watch. Some of them are very sophisticated digs, custom-made interlocking wood construction, fancy velvet-topped display platforms. I didn't actually see very much art change hands when I wandered around during the fair and after it was over, the sellers seemed to be packing up a lot of inventory. Despite my smart-ass comments, I do hope it was a success for those involved. I'd hate to have to come up with something new to make fun of next year.

So by Sunday, we had the town back again. The streets were back to their normal level of crowded. Restaurants had broken down their temporary additional outside seating sections. Only a few of the galleries still offered up things on a stick. (Although, while I haven't had it, I have to say that Kilwin's Rice Krispie treat on a stick, dipped in chocolate is the best stick usage I've seen in ages.)

Now it's Wednesday and I'm still searching for the cord for my digital camera so that I can upload my photos of art on a stick. Then you can experience all the joy of this annual event without having to leave the comfort of your own homes. Lucky, lucky you!

Also -- a quick shout-out to all my homies (yes, I said that) in da Lou. The city went through some major storms last week and last I heard not all my peeps had power again. Hope the weather's staying cooler for you!