Somewhere on the wall of the kindergarten classroom of my mind there hangs a poster. It’s printed in garish primary colors, dinged by errant building blocks and its title is written in Comic Sans, the favored font of boat owners and party planning committees. It reads, “All I Really Need To Know About Life I Learned At Bragg Jam.” Here’s a sampling of its text:
#6: Take good care of your feet. Sure, I may have heard this first from the Beach Boys, but their advice was always so abstract. And who was Pete? It wasn’t until I began attending Bragg Jam on a regular basis that I truly knew the meaning of securing the proper footwear for an occasion. Don’t try to be stylish, don’t be a martyr for fashion, just wear some comfy old shoes. There’s a 100% correlation between people who wear heels and people who are crying on the phone with an cab driver at 2:15 a.m.
#22: Flush. This one is really self-explanatory, isn’t it?
#45: When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together. Bragg Jam is best experienced with a group of friends, may they be new or old. Find a tailgate party. Venture forth into the night with friendly strangers. Get outside your comfort zone. Dance a dance that’ll make you Andy Warhol internet famous. As for the traffic part, the streets still have cars on them. Don’t forget to look both ways when you and your new friends are jaywalking.
#82: When your logic fails, trust a hunch. Some people meticulously plan out every minute of their Bragg Jam experience. Perhaps there’s someone out there who has followed their initial plan to Spock-like perfection, but I find that the best experiences usually come unexpectedly. There comes a point in the night when you desperately stumble into a venue in search of a quick air conditioning fix or detour into an overcrowded pizza parlor. Those unplanned stops can derail the schedule by a few minutes, but they’re also the catalyst for discovery. For Bragg Jam, be like the wind; be like the river. Flow with purpose but open to possibility.
#159: Don’t be a wanker; don’t take requests. I learned a great deal from Wreckless Eric’s 2015 set at Fresh Produce Music Hall, including a PG-13 story about how to name a guitar, but this pearl of wisdom topped the bill. It could be a long-lost verse from the Analects of Confucius. It’s a mantra for life. Repeat it often. Give it a close reading every chance you get. Incorporate it into your Bragg Jam experience, and you’ll do well.