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Mother’s Day at Pier 1

You didn't miss the Mamapalooza, did you?

By 7.16.07

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This article appears in July/August 2007 issue of The American Spectator. To subscribe to our monthly print edition, click here.

IF THERE IS A BETTER WAY TO SPEND a Sunday in May than at Mamapalooza, the "Creativity and Lifestyles Conference, 2007," then don't bother telling me, because it's too late. I discovered the event, entirely by accident, taking a walk along the water at Riverside Park South trying to find a bathroom. Instead, however, I stumbled on a vibrant group of middle-aged women in black shirts (most reading "mom's rock") belting out substandard bar rock. I believe I hear bongos. No, I definitely hear bongos.

The event, according to a pink flyer I found beneath my shoe, began last Thursday, May 17th, and concludes today, sponsored by something called the Mom Music Network -- in partnership with another thing called the Women's Media Center, which was founded by something called Jane Fonda. The conference features all the stuff you can predict conferences like these will feature: workshops, creative clinics, and probably more workshops. The funny thing about workshops: there's never any "work" being done, and it certainly isn't a shop because there's never anything worth buying. Generally a workshop involves fingerpainting, or something like fingerpainting. Followed by hugs.

So here on Pier 1, I weave my way in between the baby strollers, pausing to observe the required face painter and then, of course, expressing an "oooh" or two at the guy in tie-dye sweats making balloon animals (which, in fact, were pretty impressive: I believe he actually made a dinosaur). There are a few men scattered about on folding chairs -- pudgy and dozing, some laid out on two seats. I perk up when I hear music -- and I look to the stage, where dancing erupts like a popped blister. To the angry chords of plodding rock, one woman rises up in a flowing outfit and starts a "movement." She extends one leg out... and hops. Then she unfolds her arm heavenward and leaps up, turning her back and pausing -- until she turns and smiles at the audience.

Then another woman joins her -- wearing something that may be a dress/table cloth combination. Together they prance -- a hop, then a leap -- and then they turn to the audience and smile. It's that free form expression that's parodied over and over in movies -- yet for some reason here there's no irony present on this wonderfully sunny afternoon. These folks truly consider this dancing. Scary.

The women continue smiling -- that kind of smile seen often on yoga instructors and people who drink their own urine. I finally catch the name of the dancers: they are officially "The Stephanie Nelson Dance Troupe." I only bring this up to prevent the onslaught of letters this magazine will receive from readers desperate to book them for receptions and birthday parties.

This afternoon of revelry is heaven, if heaven were designed by a lesbian mom -- which means hell for the rest of us. But I have to say, the people seem to be having a good time.

Probably, I think, because they have to. I'm pretty certain if I had kids, and it was a beautiful spring Sunday afternoon, I wouldn't be here, unless I had to be.

But I am here, and I don't even have any kids. I just have to find a bathroom.

The booths that form the boundaries to the event teem with a motley cross section of baby stuff and activist wear -- T-shirts with slogans (I think I saw something that read "Mothers Acting Up" and a flyer that notes, "Women do not have an expiration date") and knitted dolls you'd pretty much have to hypnotize your child to make her believe it's a toy. Next to the display, a woman is receiving a chair massage, for only ten dollars. It looks punishing -- the therapeutic accompaniment to watching The View.

Today is apparently about mothers, but everywhere I look I see women trying not to dress like moms or grandmoms -- instead they wear ball caps and denim jeans under dresses. Bandanas knotted around necks. Wide black belts, and the silver. So much silver. What is it with silver? It's like a badge for the phony alternative nation: A silver skull belt buckle and a tiny Asian tattoo is all you need to portray a hint of danger as you drive your Prius to Pilates class. You're dangerous. You're alternative. You're edgy. Remember this tip, single men: Too many silver rings on one hand is a sure sign someone believes 9/11 was an inside job, and she will be happy to tell you about it on a chair lift in Telluride.

WHAT EXACTLY IS MAMAPALOOZA? Apparently, it's a "community," one that is concerned with the cultural, social, and economic welfare of mothers. And especially, "mothers who rock!" "Stick around for Octavia, who plays a wicked harp," says one lady, wearing a floppy hat, and another one of those outfits that might be a dress, a shirt, or really big pants. Moments later a large woman takes the stage, and sure enough she can play the harp -- or rather -- the harmonica. Imagine a blues man, but instead of being old, soulful, and black -- think white, fat, and loud. It's harsh enough to get the babies crying. They make perfect background singers.

Moms should not be rockers -- nope, they should be in them. All of these old women dressing young depresses me. In New York, it's hard to find old ladies who look like old ladies anymore. And it's hard to find moms who actually appear matronly.

I wonder what it will be like 30 years from now -- when all the women with fake boobs and botoxed faces hit 70. It's highly unlikely they will have white hair and little glasses, and give their grandkids ribbon candy in exchange for a kiss. No, I fear they will all look like mannequins in a state of decomposition -- the frame intact while everything else falls apart.

So what's preventing these women from acting like their moms and their grandmoms? Politics. Politics tells you that being a mom is a waste of time -- and being an individual is more important. You can't be one and the same, of course. Unless, of course, "you rock!" On the pier, I can't help but smell the phony politics of nonconformity. And I'm always curious how the nature of the nonconformist only allows for rebellion in the most conformist of ways.

All of the rebels here today look the same. They all look as if they should be running candle shops in New Hope, Pennsylvania. Or lecturing me on Darfur on Sproul Plaza. Why do all those proclaiming their uniqueness look identical?

It's because, just maybe, they aren't rebels at all. Rebels, in general, face consequences for their rebellion. They are often ridiculed, shamed, sometimes beaten.

Here in America people make millions pretending to be rebels, without paying a price. Impostors like Sean Penn, Marilyn Manson, and the recently reformed Rage Against the Machine all seem so cutting edge to their fans -- but to the rest of us they're as safe as milk. The biggest culprit? The Suicide Girls: goth-punk chicks who express their individuality through porn, tattoos, and piercing. The more rebellious they act out, the more banal they become.

This kind of rebellion is simply narcissism. So while the rest of these people on this lovely day prefer to rock out in the spirit of rebellion -- I would like to salute the real rebels in this world: little old ladies. These are the folks who pay their bills and drive under the speed limit, usually perched on a pillow so they can see above the dash. They are cooler than lesbians and tougher than nails. And they always send you twenty dollars in a card on your birthday.

Now, where's the toilet?

Greg Gutfeld, former editor of Maxim (UK), Men's Health, and Stuff, is host of Red Eye on Fox News.

This article appears in July/August 2007 issue of The American Spectator. To subscribe to our monthly print edition, click here.

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About the Author

Greg Gutfeld, is a co-host on Fox News’ The Five and the host of Red Eye.