Daily Archives: July 5, 2012

Mornings at the Triffid Ranch

In most locales in the US, the Fourth of July holiday week involves chilled watermelon, grilled bratwurst, or trying to put significant portions of our landmass into low-Earth orbit. Around here, it’s best recognized by the visitors. Alarm clock goes off, stumble to the shower, get out, start to dress, and find this little guy in my pants pocket:

Baby gecko

For those not familiar with herpetology, this is a baby Mediterranean gecko, Hemidactylus turcicus. Earlier in spring, the females of the local H. turcicus population laid their eggs in protected spots in houses in the Dallas area, gluing the eggs onto the undersides of aluminum siding or the insides of bricks. Right about now, the hatchlings emerge, trying to stake out new territories, and that usually involves their climbing through doorways and cracks in windowframes. This little guy probably climbed down the bathroom vent pipe before dropping onto the carpet and hiding out in my pocket.

Baby gecko 2

And before anyone asks, he was promptly released after a couple of photos. Between normal dry conditions in North Texas this time of the year and the further dehydration from air conditioning, these geckos are best kept outside. It’s all for the best, really, seeing as how someone needs to help keep the mosquito and whitefly population under control, right?

Past shows, present events: the Shadow Society

Tawanda Jewelry at the Shadow Society

In the past few months, several interested bystanders have bemoaned a lack of Triffid Ranch shows in the summer. After all, the Triffid Ranch has several in spring and several in the autumn (including the upcoming FenCon IX in September and very likely the Funky Finds Experience in Fort Worth in November.”But what about events in the summer?”, they ask. “Why don’t you have anything going on in June, July, and August?”

These are valid questions, and one best answered by going outside in the afternoon and waiting until the yellow hurty thing in the sky blasts the skin and the first four layers of flesh and muscle off your face. Out here, one gains wisdom by impersonating the scorpion and Gila monster and remaining in shelter until the sun goes down. When it comes down to plantselling, strangely enough, this works well also: yes, you have to bring artificial light to show the merits of carnivorous flora, but the night also means that customers can put new acquisitions into cars for safekeeping without their being cooked in the sun.

The only problem with this concept is that while Dallas should be very nocturnal-friendly in the summer, most events are still planned and organized for day-dwellers. This isn’t always the case, though. Last weekend, the Czarina and I attended the latest Shadow Society event, a regular goth music and vendor event held on the last Saturday of every month at the Crown and Harp on lowest Greenville Avenue in Dallas. While advertising DJs as its major draw, the Shadow Society nights also feature a vendors’ space in the back of the ground floor, and that’s where we found ourselves last Saturday.

Vendor at Shadow Society

Now, I could go on about the general mellow attitude among attendees and passersby, or how this was the first one-night show I’ve done in years that made me wish we could have gone on for longer. The highest compliment I can pay, though, comes down to the DJing. Most vendors of smaller events dread the words “Live DJ” for one big reason: the volume. While most clubs and bars prefer to have their DJs crank music as loudly as possible to encourage customers to shut up and buy more, the volume increases the difficulty of vendors being able to talk to those customers. Worse, for every DJ whose only concern is to get attendees up to dance, you get four or five mediocre ones who are determined to bombard the captive audience with their choice of music, no matter how cliched or annoying. As they keep playing, customers and vendors get louder, and the DJ retaliates by cranking up the music further. Before you know it, the music is loud enough to cause heart palpitations, communication is only possible with semaphore flags and telepathy, and the bozo playing Beck’s “Loser” for its irony value gets people screaming at him “If that’s an offer, I can take you out right now!”

(Two years ago, I was contacted by the manager of a club who was having an event where he wanted interesting vendors. Said event was a “battle of the bands,” where the vendor’s booth fee was more for one day than at most Dallas/Fort Worth three-day shows. I was very glad to bow out by noting that most of my temperate carnivores were already dormant for the winter.)

That high compliment I wanted to pay? The DJs on the ground floor, Tammy and Toby of Azrael’s Accomplice Designs, were also the show organizers, and they Understood. The music was loud enough for dancers and low enough for vendors, and we all had a great time. I also have nothing but compliments for anybody playing David Bowie’s “Scary Monsters”, because that’s a pre-goth classic that pretty much summed up the whole night.

Because of how this show turned out, the Czarina had a blast, and we’ll be out together on July 28 for the next Shadow Society gathering. Oh, and expect some surprises in plants, just for this event.

Vendors and attendees at Shadow Society