If you don't own the company this one is NSFW: Eeyore's Birthday Party. Austin. 2011. Photo Insanity. In a good way....

My favorite party of the year is Eeyore's Birthday Party at Pease Park, here in Austin.  For the last 30 years or so it's been a wonderful excuse to dress up (or undress) and officially welcome Spring and craziness to Austin.  This year was no different.  The barely clad women danced inside the drum circle.  Live bands played all over the park and the smell of pot wafted thru the air like incense in a head shop from the 1970's.  If your city doesn't have a party like this one  you might want to start one.  Or buy a plane ticket and come join us.  

This is, maybe, my 25th Eeyore's party.  In the early years I was a more active participant but for the past few years I've been more of a spectator.  One thing I'm pretty adamant about for my own work is rejecting the easy way out, photographically.  I see a lot of guys with big-ass zoom lenses, trying to take photos of characters and nymphs from far, far away.  I think that's cheating.  I think you should be of the crowd and photograph with the tacit approval of the subjects.  My advice for photographer attendees is to "grow a pair,"  leave the voyeur-zooms at home and get in close.    

To make it easier and to keep from being paralyzed by having to make choices I take one camera and one lens.  If you've read my blog for a while you'll probably guess that the lens is a 50mm.  It makes you get close.  And it's more fun.  My choice of cameras for today was the Canon 1Dmk2N.  And I'm glad it doesn't have a video mode because it would be another layer of choices.....  The camera I pulled out of the drawer is the one I'm using the split image screen with.  It was great with the Zeiss 50mm 1.4.  I set the lens on f4.5, put the camera on "A" and the ISO on 160 and shot raw.  On an 8 gigabyte SD card you get 772 raw files.  I must be slipping because by the time I called it quits (in the heat of the afternoon) I still had a couple hundred images in reserve.  

The party goes on till dark.  But I got hot and thirsty so I walked down the street to Whole Foods for an incredible light ale, full of hops, and then called it a day around 6pm.  Following are my quick edit favorites with captions (when I felt like a caption was called for......).   Will we see you down there next year?  Help us keep Austin Weird !!!

The woods on the west side of the park are like a magnet for the......alternative, alternative lifestyle people.  I spent some time up there photographing but eventually the pot fumes started to make me woozy (and hungry).

The variety of butterfly and fairy wings attached to beautiful women was amazing.  I love the blue.  And the sunglasses...

Moving away from the Milne books this person decided on a darker interpretation of Christopher Robin's childhood stories.  More of a Norse Prince of Darkness vibe....

No public gathering would be complete without the minstrels.  And they sang.

Some people dress up with wings while others have "live snake" bling.  Funny to hear women asking, "Can I pet your python?  Very inappropriate.

While all manner of face and body painting is expected I saw so many tatoo'ed people I thought I was in prison.  Really.  And the piercings were awesome too.

The star of the dance and drum circle.  And she never spilled a drop of beer.

Austin photographer, John Langmore, tests the limits of the social contract by stepping inside the dance circle and inside the five foot interpersonal space boundary to feed his hungry film Leica.  No, really, right in the middle of the dance circle.  Yes.  In the middle.  

This young lady has a very big unicycle.  I didn't care whether or not I shot the unicycle but her face was too adorably cute to pass up.  Angelic?

The dance circle princess leads her people to the western hills.  Right out of a Tolkien book.

This couple forgot to bring their drums or any other musical instrument so they decided to play percussion on her butt instead.  I couldn't hear much but they did have the rhythm "down pat."

The Alpha leader of the main drum circle.  

Part of the Eskimo drum circle.  Did I mention that it was, like, 95 degrees this afternoon?  But still, it was a more seasonal outfit than the guy in the giant Winnie the Pooh outfit......

Thing One and Thing Two.  Perhaps different than Dr. Suess imagined them.... I vote: Most creative.

Hundreds and hundreds of dogs.  Largely, they were not amused.

And no Austin festivity would be complete without......the guys who wear Dickies T-Shirts and give me caps.  Ambidextrous beer handling skills?  Check!

On my six block walk to Whole Foods I went along the hiking trail, under Lamar and saw this wonderfully calm image.  After four or five hours with the nobility of Austin this was a welcome respite.  There's something about industrial piers I find comforting.

What a wonderful end to a busy and corporate sort of week.  It's stuff like this that makes Austin special.  And Eeyore's also serves as a fund rasier for many local charities.  Every beer, turkey leg and waffle cake you buy helps support one non-profit or another.  If you don't like to watch people having fun you should probably steer clear.  It's a judgement free zone for the day.  And that's nice.