the Fells' Point Fun Festival's impact on my life

Came down to Fells Point to get out of the house on this rainy Friday. I forgot that this is the first weekend of October, so tomorrow is the Fells Point Fun Festival -- part of Broadway is closed off in preparation, screwing up traffic and the already insane parking situation, so I had to drive around for about a half an hour before finding parking and getting down here to Leadbetters.

(Digression -- Kurt is singing "Desperado", a song by the Eagles. There is a most amazing version of this song on the album "Langley Schools Music Project", it's sung by a girl maybe twelve years old tops, it will break your heart. The album is a wonderful find by "outsider music" expert Irwin Chusid, a recording made by an itinerant middle-school music teacher in the late 70s, of a kids chorus singing pop songs. It's the sound of kids falling in love with music. Top recommendation.)

As I was walking down Broadway I considered how this bar during that festival impacted my life thirteen years ago. It's one of those "fortunately/unfortunately" sort of stories.

I came down to the street festival on, if I recall correctly, Sunday afternoon, during its 1996 incarnation. Browsed the vendors, had a beer or two in the beer gardens, had fun. In the evening I saw that Frank, a fellow I knew, was playing here at 'betters, so figured I'd hang out.

I was sitting at the end of the bar, near the door and the corner that serves as the stage, when Frank took a break. A big fellow who'd probably been drinking all day got it into his head to step up to the mic and start blathering to us all -- which wouldn't have been so bad, but when the bouncer stepped up to tell him to cut it out, Big Drunk Guy started throwing punches.

The bouncer was *pissed*, obviously, and all this was going on about four feet in front of me. Somehow at the time it seemed a good idea for me to grab Big Drunk Guy and drag him outside to break things up before somebody got hurt, so I jumped up, put a full nelson on him, and started backing out the door.

Problem was, a few other folks had the idea also to jump in, and I ended up falling back with Big Drunk Guy (200 lbs or so, I 'd say) and one or two other folks on top. landing on my left elbow. At the time, just my elbow was sore, but the next day, my shoulder was sore and stiff, an injury that has plagued me ever since.

After months of physical therapy, I regained just about full functionality. But in the summer of 2002, I moved wrong in my karate class and suffered a relapse. Just a few weeks before our annual Black Belt clinic, with some great seminars coming up, I could barely move my arm. And if I couldn't move my arm to do stuff at these seminars, I wouldn't be able to learn the material.

In desperation, I decided to try something radical -- I went to my friend Eric Wiegmann, an acupuncturist, and asked what he could do.

In an hour and a half of needles, fire cupping, and moxibustion, he did more for me than those months of physical therapy. I went from perhaps 40% functionality in my left arm to 80%, enough to learn the material. I was instantly a convert to the usefulness of Chinese Medicine.

A few weeks later I went back for a followup. In the interim, I had broken up with the woman I was dating at the time -- a very unhealthy relationship that ended messily. So I learned that acupuncture not only can aid the body, but can soothe the mind and spirit.

As he and I talked, Eric suggested that I might think about studying acupuncture. This was what, a few months later, set me on the path to studying shiatsu and acupressure -- and none of this would have happened if I hadn't blown out my shoulder breaking up a barfight at Leadbetters during the Fells Point Fun Festival. So it goes.

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