Friday, July 21, 2006

What purpose do blacksmiths serve in modern society?

In my town, every year, we have what is called "The Cathedral Arts Festival". Normally, I wouldn't go within 12 city blocks of this abomination, but my buddy Xris just won a country music contest (another abomination) and was performing at the festival.

I went with another friend of mine, Burnsy, to watch Xris perform and when he was finished, we decided to walk around the kiosks to see if there was anything worthwhile. The festival spans around 8 city blocks, so there was quite a bit of ground to cover. As it is with most festivals, there was an array of hippies selling their wares and "cool retro" stores trying to make you buy their clothes...which I did...NOT!!!

Now let me digress from this story for a moment to paint a picture for you - A man the size of a bull, stripped to the waist hammering molten metal into what looks to be a sword. The man has sweat all over his rippling body due to the forge fires not 6 feet away. A smaller, but nonetheless physically fit, man uses what looks like a huge accordion to blow air into the forge making the room dance with heat. A stranger walks in and asks the blacksmith if he's finished the axe he paid for. The blacksmith nods towards a stand in the middle of the room with spears, swords, maces and other weapons hanging from it. The stranger spies his axe; a perfect half-moon blade with a large spike on the other end for balance. The stranger hefts the axe and smiles satisfactorily at it's perfect weight...

Now, asides from the latent (O.K., blatent) homoeroticism in this paragraph, you have to admit that blacksmiths were men. Strong men.

Now back to the festival. While walking through crowds of hippies and wannabe culturalists, while glancing at kiosks holding mindreaders, magnetized miracle bracelets and aboriginal paintings, I spot 2 men with no shirts on, pounding metal. It briefly enters my mind that it's the 21st Century and that there can't be THAT much of a demand for medieval weaponry, but that quickly exits out the other side as my eyes take in what the blacksmith is working on. A spear.

My first thought is "Awesome". The first words out of my mouth are to Xris and Burnsy "Why are they making a spear?". Burnsy looks around the kiosk for a second then points to a corner and says "It's not a spear". I look to where he's pointing and what do I see? A huge metal cattail. Many of them. Like 3 or 4. The second thought that went through me head was "Oh. My. God. That wasn't a spear. I was the birth of some art". I wrinkle my nose in disgust and spit in the smithy's face. No I don't, I spit on the ground. No I don't, I write a blog. But seriously, blacksmiths making art? That's gayer that sweating over weaponry anyday. An institution of manhood has fallen and nobody cares. What next? Women teaching our kids?

Counters Rule