First off. it was still eighty eight degrees and humid at ten p.m. I feel that it's real important to mention this, as a single moment of experiencing hot weather makes every millisecond of life pointless and unbearable and all attempts at social joviality evil and disgusting. But the festival, lets get back to the festival.
Well, the town of Wilber was filled to the brim. I drove in via U.S. 77 and Nebraska 41, a narrow shoulderless road that is usually adequate to serve east-west traffic to and from Wilber but on Czech Days weekend is something of a death trap, especially this long double curve out of Clatonia. Parking was a bit of a problem once I got there but not as bad as downtown Lincoln on a workday. I found a spot at first and Court just two blocks from the west end of the street fair. Mostly it was the pedestrians that made driving through town problematic. The typical big bubbas mixed with girls in old peasant-frauling costume wrapped in the arms of boys in cowboy hats and Jay-Z t-shirts.
It was disappointing, the way that the festival added only a thin layer of gloss to a perfectly generic prairie village. There were two live rock bands playing in the bars. (One thing Wilber has going for it is that it has one bar for every thirty people or so, revealing the town's Bohemian roots much more than any country schlock fest.) One band was playing Puddle of Mudd, the other was playing Bachman-Turner Overdrive. Major events, whether at the personal or community level, are really not at all transformative. They merely amplify the character that is already there. If there isn't anything interesting there than this will become more obvious than ever.
There was a street dance going on in the parking lot of a small grocery store. They were playing some current top-forty rap of the type I do my best to avoid. Girls in tank tops and high heels complimented by the occasional straw hat. Boys standing on the backs of pickup trucks and, dear God, raising the roof. It wasn't more than ten years ago when white people in even the larger Midwestern towns had a knee-jerk hostility towards rap. We should go back to that. Rap was better then. It was beyond horrible, watching these kids scream and "dance" while the stereo spouted TRL cant. Girl I like it when/you move that/sit back for me dolla/slap that/Mercedes Rims/That Bitch got a Dime/Move that Ass/ Who now?
I walked to a food stand featuring fare from the meat market owned by Russ Karpisek. Karpisek is known to the outside world as the state senator from the area, replacing deranged moon-harpy Jeanne Combs of 'I need a concealed gun to protect myself from prostitutes' fame. In the last session Karpisek managed to get a bill of his passed which upped the penalty for possession of marijuana under an ounce, reasoning that it was wrong for minors who are caught drinking to be punished more harshly than if they were smoking a substance that it illegal to all. While Karpisek is a marked improvement over Combs, it is still comforting to know that the area can still produce senators with ass-backwards solutions to state problems. I bought a polish dog with kraut. It was magnificent. All is forgiven senator.
I walked into a bar, also owned by Karpisek unless it's his brother or something. There was a Cech brass band singing a drinking song that was incomprehensible over the crowd. There was a two dollar cover charge, with another three-fifty for a Pillsner Urquell. The women were overweight and/or overly made-up. It was stuffed fill of assholes and the collective body heat negated the air conditioning, and than the band started playing the husker fight song, and the people sang along, and I always knew that this would happen. Even when I was an infant, unable to speak or reason, I knew that this moment would be. That I would be in a bar in Wilber Nebraska listening to a brass band in peasant costume playing the Husker Fight song while I was surrounded by sunburned rubes in a fire-hazard country bar. This is my moment of eternal return, this is what I will experience forever in the split-second before my death, and the thought of that fills me with a sort of bitter peace. Why does the world hurt me? Why does it hate me? Why must I be the one who reveals the smell of spilled Bud Light on the floor combined with sweat and chewing tobacco? There is no escape from this universal destiny. This is are apocalypse. While the rest of the world collapses in a great wave of blood and fire, Nebraska will be in a bar listening to an Ethnic brass band play "Good ol Nebraska U."
After this I wondered up and down the festival streets until I came to the Hotel Wilber. Which is a historic hotel which is currently being used as, a hotel, or rather a bed-and-breakfast. And in truth the place is, rather pretty. Judging by the website it seems that the maids and the waitresses all dress in old-world costume. This loses its novelty quickly. It only takes a few minutes for the sight of a woman in Czech dress smoking a cigarette, drinking a Bud Light, and cursing her child via cellphone to become nothing at all.
The Hotel Wilber is where the various state Czech Queens are being kept. I was surprised at how easily I walked in the front door. There were various hangers-on about, presumably the owners of the hotel, officials connected to the pageant, the festival, the town. The Czech Queens came and went among them, dressed down to five or six layers of underwear. Why I didn't strike up a conversation with one of them I don't know. I could of taken them away from there. We could have gone to Oakland, where the weather is never offensive and the subdivisions among white people are laughably insignificant. But here I am and there they are. Life is pain.
I went to a liquor store in search of an individual 24 of Urquell, but all they had in this vain were Budweiser products. I went back to my car and eventually navigated my way out of the village, taking the shouldered Nebraska 103 north towards Crete. Two thirds of the other cars on the highway were cops just sitting there just waiting to catch somebody swerving. When I got back to Lincoln I bought a pint of Pillsner Urquell from N street liquors and drank it in the alleys of T-Town.