I have an irrational dislike of Red Bull’s Flügtag event. I even have a trunked story (that will probably never be published for other reasons) where I air these feelings:
“Hey,” I say suddenly. “If we go over the Hawthorne Bridge, we can see Flügtag. They started setting up yesterday.”
“It means Flying Day.” Dennis makes an impatient noise like he shouldn’t even have to say he already knows this, and I roll my eyes but he doesn’t see me. “People build giant sculptures and try to fly them off a big ramp over the river. Down by the waterfront.”
“Flügtag was an air show disaster,” Dennis says. “At a base in Germany in the eighties. Seventy-some people were killed.”
“God, Whitman. How do you even know that?”
He shrugs again. We’ve come down Clay Street to the riverfront and start climbing along the bike path that leads to the bridge. A couple of cyclists zip past. We reach the bridge’s crest and I can see the Flügtag machines below us. There’s a big toaster, a fish, and some airplaney things.
“They won’t fly,” Dennis says.
“Well, some of them. But–”
“None of them.”
“You don’t know that.”
“I’m an engineer,” Dennis says like it’s a fatal disease.
“Well…well, the bumblebee flies anyway,” I announce, and stomp ahead of him. But the closer I get, the more, I don’t know, corporate it looks. Sponsorship signs all over, and those giant black towers of speakers. Dennis is right. They’re not even trying. The flying machines are going to tumble right off the end of the ramp as people watch from the beer tent. People suck.
Hence my UNATTRACTIVE GLEE today when Red Bull completely failed to keep the river clear for traffic, the Portland Spirit plowed through clueless spectators, and the Coast Guard shut it all down. BYE!