What is a Tuba Bath?

And other pressing questions

Dispatches from the Contrapuntal Countryside

I am at Balkan Music Camp. Yes, you read that right. We gather in the Catskills to dance and play music all day, grill a lot of peppers, and stay up way too late. We’re at a summer camp, and so there are bugs. Beautiful bugs of all shapes and sizes. Yesterday, a giant one attracted the fascination of our children for the better part of a meal. Naturally, the conversation segued to what said bug would taste like, grilled, perhaps, with a Slivovitz chaser. My new friend Morgan made a comment about trying to eat bugs, to get ready for where the world is headed. He’s not a prepper (well, he’s a new friend, so I can’t be sure), he’s just a person alert to what is happening in the world, and thinking long-term about the scale of change we may soon see.

The comment stuck with me because I’m highly conscious of the fact that there are people thinking seriously about these impending structural shifts, and people who are wholly present-biased. Of course, it’s a luxury to be able to think beyond the immediate. I joke that now that I’m oldish, I’m suddenly realizing there are friends of mine who had long-term career plans all along, people who completed back pocket PhDs in secret, while fronting rock bands, presciently aware of the fact that stardom might not be lasting. They’re big picture thinkers, not hyperbolic discounters.

These are people who think towards the future in layers. Millefeuille people. Millefeuille people are always layering thoughts and plans. Brownies, on the other hand, are the most present-biased of baked goods. They’re one idea to the core. Though a delicious and often powerful idea, to be sure.

Me, I think I’m a croissant. The layers of flaky pastry are there, but I’m focused on the crisp, buttery outer layer. Morgan’s comment made me think about these layers in the context of the climate crisis. Though we haven’t talked about climate change at all together, there’s this layer of awareness, of preparedness, of mind devoted to thinking about person adapting to planet. To bastardize transcendentalism (apologies, Emerson), it’s almost as if there’s an oversoul shared by climate-aware people. Even as we go about our day, bludgeoning Albanian folk tunes, a part of us is collectively thinking about future cricket consumption and forest growth. As someone who frets about the fact that we don’t talk about climate all the time, this thought calms me. 

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I’m taking a Bulgarian dance class with a funny and dashing teacher named Petur. The ladies swoon over him, asking him unnecessary questions just to watch him demonstrate moves, and make surprisingly clever jokes considering his rustic English. Despite the adoration, there was mild complaint about how gendered Bulgarian dancing is (the men flash and bounce, the women keep it small). Petur answered the complaints with a story about his village, told to him by his father.

When his dad was a boy he was at a village dance. The men danced in a tight circle, the women following at the end of the line. Mid-dance, a woman named Baba Mara broke into the very centre of the circle. She pulled up her long traditional skirts, tucked them into the sides of her belt, brazenly revealing that she had legs. To everyone’s shock, she Bulgarian Beyoncéd the shit out of the dance’s moves. After that, Petur’s village let everyone dance however they wanted. The story felt a little too perfect to be true, but as I said, Petur is very handsome and funny, so everyone ate it up and started talking about making Baba Mara t-shirts. I like the story anyways. Be the Baba Mara, my friends!

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To answer that question up above. A tuba bath is a sonic spa. I really regret not bidding on this at our camp auction.

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I’ve been helping Fair Path Forward, a Canadian initiative to make citizens aware about the absolute usefulness of a carbon tax, among other tools. Like, share, spread, talk, please!

THIS WEEK

What kind of pastry are you? Would you eat crickets? Are you contributing to that great oversoul of climate-crisis consciousness? Tell me.

Have a wonderful Wednesday!

(Please forgive any typos. My editor is canoeing. Summer!)

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