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 that damn Muddy Rag #12 Heaven is North Carolina
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Heaven is North Carolina
by Spunky Jitters

As I approached the southeastern state known as North Carolina, a dozen questions filled my head... Will the NASCAR/WWE crowd warm up to our copyrighted brand of frivolous mayhem? Will they ask us back next year? Will my pre-arranged housing there include a giant hole in the roof? Is the cast made up primarily of Grateful Dead refugees? Would I look good in dreadlocks? Will my sensitive nature be too subtle for the rowdy crowds? Where should I have lunch? Why am I asking myself these questions in the first place?...So many questions, but the answers arrived fast and furious upon my arrival. Well, at least some of them did. I never did my hair up in dreadlocks.

We were very proud to bring The Sturdy Beggars Mud Show to North Carolina, a festival that is celebrating their tenth anniversary. We were very well received, and we have been asked back for another year or three. This was accomplished with the very generous push the Festival Management gave us with loads of media opportunities. My partner, Fitzhugh Nicely, with his many, many, (far too many to mention) many years of experience, was the main mouthpiece for us both. I was relegated to crazy antics and constipated mugging, but hey – we need that too. There is no “I” in “teamwork” but there is one in “income.”

First, the new mud pit: built by none other than Fitzhugh himself. A slight miscalculation resulted in a mud pit that is roughly 12 times the size of a normal mud pit, which resulted in faster running and slower talking during the show. It was quite an adjustment for a man of my IQ. Also, a good dive from the upper platform is akin to jumping out a third story window, so that frightened look on my face before the dive is real.

And then there is the “mud” in North Carolina – it isn’t really mud at all. It’s not like the black, gooey pure black dirt with earthworms we have here in good ol’ Minnesota. “Mud” in North Carolina is red. And it isn’t mud. It is sand with clay in it. Mix with water, and you have wet, sandy, red clay. Not the perfect medium, but acceptable, if you don't mind ceramics in your shorts. We can work with darn near anything. At least it washed off clean and didn’t stain us.

Housing on site didn’t include a hovel with a big hole in the roof, just a hovel with a bunch of little ones. It was fine unless it rained. Smack in the middle of a lush North Carolina forest, it was simply Heaven on Earth. And home to the biggest damn spiders I have ever seen. Situated between an elephant named Judy and the cacophony of the petting zoo (12 chickens running loose 24/7), we felt as “at home” as anywhere. It was nice to stink less than our neighbors for a change.

And the FANS! I was happy to find that the fine folks in the south were rabid in their appreciation. While we always work hard to whip our lovable crowd into a frothy combustible fountain of energy, there were times we went too far and had to actually try to calm the crowd down for fear they would overrun the stage and possibly influence events so that their side would win! When it comes to competitions, these people are serious about coming out on top! Very often Fitzhugh would have to withstand a chorus of boos while I would try to reassure my side that we would win next time. That happened after almost every show. Not sure how it happened, but Fitzhugh won 3.9 out of 4 shows. For some reason I always seem to lose to the veterans. I suspect some reason is out there, but I have no proof.

We were featured on a morning TV show, where we advised the Martha Stewart-like host that the best way to remove mud stains is with water, soap, and most importantly, vigorous rubbing. An enthusiastic demonstration ensued. We were even interviewed live on WRFX 99.7, Charlotte’s home of Rock & Roll. Fitzhugh did the talking while I scratched my private property in a nonchalant fashion, nodded my head in agreement for the radio audience, and coughed at the appropriate times. I hope I came across as alive, at least. And they gave me the free T shirt!

The newspaper media seemed to have a bit of trouble with my name, printing it as “Monkey Flippers”, or even “Minty Chickenlips.” Fitzhugh seemed to take an unusual delight in my identity crisis. The occasional “Funky Slippers” slipped out during the show, and in the midst of unfortunate misspellings in the local print media, I briefly considered changing my name to “Ken,” but it didn’t have the right pizzaz. Newspapers crawled over each other to get to the bottom of “Who is this “Runty Spitters”, and why does he love mud so much?"

The Festival challenged us by locating us at the very end of a horseshoe-shaped site. Our purpose was to draw the crowd ALL THE WAY to the back. It worked very well. We were loud and boisterous enough to draw attention, and for good measure, management put a pair of bagpipers near our stage between shows. I feel bad when an act has to share a stage with the Mud Show... but I tell you, I NEVER want to hear “Amazing Grace” EVER again.

A two hour drive from beautiful mountains and a two hour drive from the ocean, North Carolina had all you could want within a two hour drive. So in the idle hours between weekends and Mud Shows, there was plenty to do and see. Combine that with the finest and friendliest people that side of the Mason-Dixie line, you could say that North Carolina was a li'l slice of Heaven on Earth. I look forward to being a resident again in 2004. I sure do miss them chickens. See y’all soon!


that damn Muddy Rag #12 designed & executed by B. H. Lumpyn, S. Jitters 03/04
editor: B. H. Lumpyn
scribes du jour: S. Jitters, B. H. Lumpyn, Hw. Henry
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