Saturday, 16 June 2012

Bread And Circuses

Posted on 6/16/2012 by the Salt City Sinner

I love my city. I love its weird blemishes and odd spots most of all. Any rube can stroll downtown and look at the Wells Fargo building or some such and be impressed. I'm more interested in the more esoteric elements of my city.

For example, at the Granary District Street Fair yesterday, one could feel free to ogle the ladies of Salt Lake's rollerderby Amazons:

The derby ladies were pumping out punk rock via a PA and skating this way and that. The fact that female roller-derby has taken off so much in SLC fills me with both joy and dread. Why the dread, you ask? Well, have you ever watched a roller-derby match?

The festival took place in the so-called 'Granary District' of Salt Lake, at the intersection of 700 South and 400 West. There's obviously some kind of urban renovation going on there, since that area is mostly renowned for its beautiful urban decay.

What you see there on the right is an example of "storage unit housing," a creative and interesting approach to the "how do we put people in houses in an environmentally responsible way" question.

Other design options were offered.

As I am not an architect, all I can say is that the designs seem extremely awesome from a layman's perspective.

The Granary District is also host to some amazing examples of urban "decay" (in my opinion opportunities for future art or community development).

Some jughead is still apparently kicking Ted's ghost around, by the way:

Just as I was looking at these, I heard a ruckus and behold:

These ingenious people bill themselves as "Bread and Circuses," a street carnival embodiment of Move to Amend Utah, which is a cause I support absolutely.

Things got interesting very quickly.

While street theater has been a staple of #Occupy/radical activism in the last few years, these heroes really pulled the stops out. For the love of gods, they arrived in a hand-crafted carnival cart that they built from scratch. I'd like to see the Republicans - oh, excuse me, the "Tea Party" - pull off this creative energy and ingenuity instead of just waving pre-printed signs from some million dollar PAC. Unlike the "Tea Party," #Occupy and associated goings-on in Utah are not affiliated with any political party - in fact, most participants (including myself) think that political parties are an essential part of the problem, and completely useless when seeking a solution.

The show was awesome in the actual dictionary sense of the word, i.e. it inspired awe. There were puppets!

For burlesque - which I would call it, more than a "circus," but I digress - it was also a very informative performance. A history of citizens' rights, corporations (including the East India Company!) and amendments to the Constitution, all very clever and accurate and concise - and while it was going on, quiet ladies and gentlemen with clipboards were circulating through the surprisingly large crowd to get signatures on the "Move to Amend" petition. I was very, very impressed.

As I understand it, this is the first of many coming performances from the Move to Amend "Bread and Circus" crew. Incidentally, they did live up to their name, and gave away free bread to anyone who wanted it after the show.

As one participant explained to me, "The original intent of 'bread and circuses' was to provide people with just enough sustenance from the government to keep them from starving, and spectacular displays to distract them from the corrupt government. We're doing the opposite - providing bread out of generosity and creating spectacles to draw attention to the dysfunction of our government."

I love my city.


  1. From one of the builders of the Bread and Circus wagon, thanks for your kind words! I love this city, too, and hoping more Salt Lickers are inspired by radical street theater and grassroots democracy. Thanks!

  2. Thanks for covering the Granary District and Bread and Circus, too! I am one of the actors and designers, and we will perform outside the Arts Fest next Saturday at 7 pm, so watch for us! Also, we'll hit up farmers markets, the People's Market, and Twilight. Gotta make Salt Lake great!

    1. ...and I will continue to support your theater and your cause. it was, truly, the greatest show in Salt Lake.