Jessika in the Big Fun front yard, July 1996. In the waning days of Big Fun, when there was no electricity and no running water, and thus no way to flush the toilets, this constituted Big Fun's principle bathroom. Photo by Deya. Click picture for a bigger version.
The social stresses in the Big Fun community built from the very start. Soon after the founding of Big Fun, a three-person contingent consisting of Sara Poiron, Jessika and the Gus, calling themselves "The Grand Air Trine," were well known for their secret meetings and exclusive behaviour, causing others, particularly Peggy, Zach and Josh Smith, to feel a degree of alienation. Peggy and Zach had each other, but Josh had no one to ally himself with locally and was forced to import those with whom he could feel comfortable. He never managed to reverse the tide of alienation that began at the outset, and after he was involved in the Norfolk traffic incident of June, 1996 (where he was arrested for drunk driving; details later), he was forced, for mostly legal-trouble-related financial reasons, to move back to Charlottesville.
The Grand Air Trine itself began to crumble in January of 1996 for a variety of reasons, including Gus' getting a temporary job at the University of Virginia, revelations that he might be doing "stuff" with Allie Vining, arguments and even violent incidents between him and Sara Poiron, and the increased presence at Big Fun of the Boys in Black resulting from the Huffanator's leaving town (the Huffanator and the Boys in Black were mutually exclusive). The end of the Grand Air Trine left Gus in a state of alienation that persisted in various forms until mid-March. Matthew Hart's having joined Big Fun in late January and the resulting increased presence of Deya brought about a shift of cliques. Gus now found himself spending most of his time with Matthew Hart and then eventually Deya. Meanwhile, in March and April, Jessika entered into a bizarre romance with Ray that resulted in her participating somewhat less in the Big Fun social scene. The fiery end of that romance in late April essentially marked the end of Ray's involvement in Big Fun.
Following Shira's moving into Big Fun in late February, Sara quickly abandoned whatever ties remained to the Grand Air Trine and entered into a close and largely motivation-free friendship with her fellow Gemini. Both Sara and Shira did everything together in lock step from then until their departure from Big Fun. Such things included romances with members of Two Point Five Children, trips to Philadelphia, and various forms of drug abuse, or more especially, agro unsatisfied desires for specific sorts of illegal drugs. This behaviour troubled, annoyed and exasperated others in the Big Fun community. This exasperation resulted in an ever-widening chasm between the Gemini girls and the others, particularly Matthew Hart. Most irritating of all was the Geminis' complete apathy; they all but abandoned their search for jobs as they whiled away the days playing solitaire, wishing for drugs, and complaining to each other about how so very much they hated Charlottesville. Sara had been entrusted with money to pay a fraction of Big Fun's electric bill. But months after Shira and Sara moved back to Philadelphia in mid-May, the electric bill had still not been paid.
"Zach and I's" car (as Peggy and Jessika refer to it), the last form of transportation in the waning days of Big Fun. This car had originally served primarily as a punching bag for Zachary until it proved itself to be the most cost-effective transportation option.
A critical blow to Big Fun came in June when, on a trip to Norfolk, Zachary was riding in Jimmy the Libra of Scottsville's car with an allegedly drunk Josh Smith at the wheel. The car was apparently not being driven well, and so was pulled over by a suspicious agent of the Man. A routine police search of the car found a cigarette pack allegedly containing 30 hits of LSD under Zachary's seat. A zealous prosecutor, thinking he'd landed a big fish, then set about to ruin Zachary's life in every way imaginable. Meanwhile, we back at Big Fun feared that Zach might end up spending a year in jail for each LSD hit found in that cigarette pack. Rumour had it that that is the going rate for LSD conviction in the bizarre legal system that exists here in the late 90s. Furthermore, the money Peggy had received from an insurance payment for her totaled Ford Thunderbird had to be kissed goodbye to pay Zachary's $1,000 bond (for a $10,000 bail). This was a financial shock to everyone in Big Fun. No longer could Peggy get a pick up truck as she had planned, and it was doubtful if rent bills could be paid when huge lawyers' bills would seem ever so much more pressing. The only good that developed out of all of this was the revival of a Japanese car that had been accumulating dents and graffiti in the Big Fun yard whenever Zach had anger to vent; it had been serving the relatively mundane purpose of punching bag ever since its purchase from Bad Bumpersticker months before. Peggy, seeing that there was no other hope for a transportation solution, fixed it up, replaced the broken windows, and purchased license plates and stickers for it. The car proved adequately reliable; it made a trip to Philadelphia and back in June and the only problem was a faulty windshield wiper. What with the loss of Matthew Hart's Vomit Comet, Shira's Cheap Wheels, and (back in March) the Punch Buggy Green, Peggy's car would come to bear the bulk of the transportation load in the final month of Big Fun's existence.
Legal problems swept the entire Gemini world of Big Fun that June. For when Sara and Shira drove to Big Fun in mid June, they received speeding tickets on the highway both from and to Philadelphia. Resulting from the second traffic stop in Maryland, Shira managed to wind up in jail after the discovery by police of a supposedly illegal knife. While in jail, Shira was forced to abandon a tongue piercing installed at Big Fun's Nomadic Festival; the $20 it had cost had been squandered from her roadtrip's gasoline budget. Some weeks later Sara was arrested for being in possession of santa clause. Such arrests contributed to the poverty of people responsible for some of Big Fun's owed bills, and this ensured that those bills would never be paid.
The free electricity lasted until late May, at which time Appalachian Power discovered the piracy and turned off electricity on the pole. Though the Gus managed to figure out what needed to be done to turn the power on at the pole, the tools (a long PVC pole) proved inadequate, despite the determined efforts of the likes of Matthew Hart and Morgan Anarchy. Raphæl, who was at the time suffering from strains in his relationship with Ana, had moved into Big Fun and was determined to get electricity by whatever means necessary. He purchased a $300 gasoline generator and the Gus wired it to the house. But since the generator only produced 120 volts, it could only run electronic equipment, lights and the refrigerator; it could not drive the stove or, most importantly, the water pump. So the toilets remained unflushable and drinking water had to be obtained in jugs from elsewhere, usually the house of Peirce and Nellie. Misery deepened, and Matthew Hart fled back to Waynesboro at the beginning of June. In the end the three remaining at Big Fun (Zachary, Peggy and Jessika) took every opportunity available to sleep in other places where showers, coffee, a fly-free breakfast and tooth brushing were possibilities. Peggy and Jessika had plans to have the house declared unlivable, but ultimately the house was simply abandoned.
Meanwhile, Big Fun stood empty of humans and filled with flies, stray cats, and most of all, debris. July's rent went unpaid and it was a matter of time before Althia Hurt, the tyrannical landlord, came by to investigate. Sara Poiron had returned to Charlottesville the weekend following July 4th to reclaim some of her stuff, which Jessika had placed in storage down in Buckingham County. With Sara was Joanna, another "Malvern Girl" of sorts who drives a VW Vanagon that she co-owns with Peggy (though for all practical purposes the Vanagon is completely Joanna's). Joanna made a solo foray to Big Fun and found Althia and some random alterna-chick going through the rubble. They'd found one of the dog corpses Jessika had gathered back in March and were appalled; shedding crocodile tears and claiming they'd be having a funeral for the mummified remains. Further, they'd found copies of the Glossary and had read them. "A Tyrant?" "A Tyrant?" Althia asked rhetorically, alluding to her own definition. Then she added, "And I know all about their drug culture...here's fifty pages-worth about it [indicating the Glossary]." Althia tried to get Joanna to reveal where the Malvern Girls had gone, but Joanna claimed only to be a very casual friend. Later that evening, returning to Big Fun, the only things that Jessika, Sara, the Gus, Joanna, and her boyfriend (an Aries named Forrest) could salvage were clothes. Many interesting things that had been left behind had already been confiscated.
Charlottesville returned to its usual summer vitality, the slow hot summer days giving way in turn to endless drunken nights filled with the squealing of intoxicated teenagers and sorority girls. Wei the Alien returned from California to once again stalk the crunchy employees of Jerusalem. Again Jatasya was often seen wasting her time in the city's most public places, now equipped with a dread-lock-bedecked boy toy. Goths unknown months before stalked the evening streets and returned to the logs from whence they had scurried before each morning's sunrise. The remnants of the old Big Fun society occasionally ran across each other and found adventures to pass the considerable time on their hands. Meanwhile off in Harrisonburg, Gus' Taverna changed its name to Dave's Taverna and further hiked the price on the pitchers of Red Dog. It was clear that a new era was at hand.
Jessika will never admit to the death of Big Fun. She insists that it lives on as a state of mind, that it never was just a house in the blowing fields north of Scottsville.
Musings of the Gus-The Gus' feelings about the post Big Fun world, updated daily. Some say the Musings are biased and serve only to glorify the Gus. But the same was also said of the Glossary. If you like the Glossary you'll like the musings, though you'll want to skip the boring parts.