Somerville video festival will be the cat's meow

Think your cat can top this?

The Somerville Arts Council is planning a cat video festival on Feb. 16. Yes, you read right.

Emcee will be Jef Czekaj, who will kick off the event by reading his book Cat Secrets for cat-crazy kids. There will also be a cat costume table and most likely an appearance from a famous local cat.

Naturally, this being Somerville and all, they have exacting standards. Like, you have to submit an application and stuff.

Ed note: If this festival doesn't have at least one video of a cat eating Fluff, I will be very disappointed.

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      What's with Somerville these days?

      Previous/ongoing events in Somerville:

      • Honk: a gathering of "activist street bands," whatever those are;
      • Fluff Fest, complete with (at least once) a burlesque-inspired production celebrating marshmallow fluff;
      • The Rock and Roll Flea Market;
      • The overpass dance party (anybody remember that one?); and
      • The cat video festival.

      I'm sure that, in the coming months/years, we can expect:

      • The annual meeting of the ironic facial hair consortium;
      • The New England fixed-gear bicycle convention (sponsored by Narrangansett);
      • The unveiling of a Leeroy Jenkins memorial;
      • The nation's largest zombie Contra dance; and
      • The first annual Somerville "Kale-splosion."

      Seriously, who's making these decisions?!? I feel like I'm living in an open-air Urban Outfitters. It's just gotten a bit silly--why is a city of 80,000 inhabitants structuring so much of its civic life around a single aesthetic and, not to put too fine a point on it, catering so blatantly to a single demographic? Maybe Cambridge gets all the quality cultural offerings and we're left with the ironic stuff.

      What's with you?

      These things happen because people organize them with their friends because they are fun and they build community.

      Honk is nationally recognized as a Totally Cool Thing now, as is the Fluff Festival.

      Heaven help us if the people who live in Somerville actually get together with other people in Somerville and organize events in Somerville for people to enjoy! They should be non-ironically flocking to bars and malls to consume the beer and entertainment that appears there, not making their own!

      Anarchy I tell you! Ironic Anarchy! Kill it before it grows!

      Or, maybe, you can just move somewhere else if it isn't to your taste, yet you still expect to be passively entertained. I don't suppose that you might organize something "non-ironic" or "high culture" or whatever on your own that suits your fancy, now. That would be a lot more work than pointing and yelling at "hipsters", but you might get what you want and actually meet some cool people to socialize with.

      "If no one seems to understand, start your own revolution and cut out the middle man" - Billy Bragg, Great Leap Forward

      Why, nothing's "with me."

      Why, nothing's "with me"--thanks for the concern, though. ;)

      It's not "Ironic Anarchy." It's just numbing sameness masquerading as something unique. To put it another way, there's nothing wrong with a ham sandwich--execpt when it's the only meal on offer for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, all week long.

      Also, how does something become a "nationally recognized... Totally Cool Thing?" Who's doing the recognizing, here?

      "They should be non-ironically flocking to bars and malls to consume the beer and entertainment that appears there, not making their own!" I have no problem with people making their own fun (who would?). I have a problem when they co-opt public resources to do it. I mean, I enjoy throwing a baseball around with my wife, but I don't need to rope-off public parking, hire a police detail, and disrupt traffic to do so. This is about people grabbing the civic megaphone to sound their "barbaric yawp[s]" to the world.

      Also, with a city support, and sponsorship from local businesses (including bars), how grass-roots are these events? When a business in Union Square supports an event because it thinks that foot traffic there will go up, such support isn't some wide-eyed act of altruism. It's business. Small business, perhaps, but business nonetheless. These events are there to boost profits for local businesses and to make the city a more attractive destination for young professionals--let's not overplay the "kumbaya" aspect here. This stuff is calculated. It's marketing. And, just like I find the people blocking my path to solicit donations for Greenpeace annoying (though it's a good cause), I also find Somerville's particular way of marketing itself annoying (though it's a wonderful city).

      As to doing more myself to diversify the neighborhood's offerings, your probably right that I ought to; but, faced with a choice between swimming upstream and looking elsewhere in the area for things to do, most people in my position will shrug and hop on the T.

      Co-opt public resources?

      That's called living in a community.

      People get to "co-opt" resources because they are part of what is called the public.

      You are welcome to opt out or to diy. But whining about a street getting roped off for a well-enjoyed event attended by a good many local taxpayers is pretty petty.

      You pay taxes, but that doesn't give you veto power.

      True that

      Although I will say that when people travel from other countries to join in with Honk, and people in other cities ask about it or rearrange their business travel to attend (as in "is Honk going on this weekend? Can you book me a room a day early so I can go?"), that means that it is an internationally and nationally recognized cool thing.

      I don't see a problem with any of those

      A music festival, outdoor dance party, celebration of hometown product, and flea market? Nothing that isn't found in some form in many towns. And a similar cat video festival was already at UMass-Boston.

      What about ArtBeat, the International Film Festival, Joe's Jazz and Blues Fest, or Harvest Fest? Seems that Somerville has lots to offer.

      Somerville

      The overpass dance party (anybody remember that one?)

      That's called Project MUM (Meet Under McGrath). Last year's edition was hosted by SCUL, though previous ones were run by the Nave Gallery.

      I feel like I'm living in an open-air Urban Outfitters.

      No, Urban Outfitters is for anti-gay right-wing Republicans. Fortunately we don't have many of these in Somerville.

      Anyway, Somerville has plenty of more conventional or traditional public events too: a New Year's Day flag-raising on Prospect Hill, a Memorial Day parade, a Family Fun Day and pre-Fourth of July fireworks at Trum Field, Somerville Open Studios, art gallery receptions at Brickbottom and the Nave, early music concerts at the Somerville Museum, a Latino-themed Carnaval in East Somerville, and doubtless other things I'm forgetting right now.

      Bicycle convention in Somerville

      The New England fixed-gear bicycle convention (sponsored by Narrangansett)

      Not quite, but we did have SPOKES 2012: A Somerville Bike Fest in Union Square last summer. I helped organize the Tasting Tour part of this event, visiting various restaurants around town and raising money for the Welcome Project.

      The year before, there was a New England Bicycle Expo at the Armory, but it wasn't repeated last year. Maybe it was not financially successful.

      This isn't a new idea

      Just wanted to point out (again) that this idea isn't a new one. As the Somerville site notes, Minneapolis hosted an Internet Cat Video Film Festival last year and it was quite popular -- drawing an estimated 10,000 people (although frankly that's not overly surprising; as a former resident of Minneapolis I can attest that residents look for just about any excuse to get outside on a lovely summer evening).

      If you haven't seen this video -- Henri 2, Paw de Deux, an award-winner at the fest -- you need to watch it immediately.