Each generation seems to have an intense need to develop its own symbolic metaphors to encourage a healthy diet in the minds of children. My generation had "the four food groups," but this was later replaced by the "food pyramid," a revised recommendation that emphasized the consumption of certain types of foods to further benefit our health. Today, First Lady Michele Obama is playing a part in ditching the food pyramid in favor of the "choose my plate" model, which not only further proportions the groups according to nutritionists' current recommendations, but makes more sense as a visual tool, as most kids don't necessary understand food in the context of pyramids, unless maybe it's Yummy Mummy breakfast cereal.
Thankfully, in an effort to clear away all this confusion, Northampton has developed its own notion of grouping foods, which involves a party-like celebration of just about any kind of food, from Electric Prunes to Black-Eyed Peas to... gulp... Meat Puppets, and features a roster of local musicians, radio personalities and comedic types from throughout the region. What I'm speaking of is the 22nd annual Transperformance. Each year local bands convene at the Pines Theater in Look Park to portray other, more well-known bands based on a theme. And this year's theme is "Food Groups."
Though the event's primary mission may not be actual nutritional education, it is an event that benefits Northampton schools, and so might accidentally aid in some version of it. At the very least, it's always a fun time for kids and grownups alike, and inevitably marks time in the Valley like a tree ring or wrinkles around your eyes.
The "Food Groups" lineup this summer features acts including Jamie Kent and The Options as Hall and Oates, Lux Deluxe as Pearl Jam, Rusty Belle as The Cranberries, Fancy Trash as The Meat Puppets, Winterpills as Cake and F. Alex Johnson and The Spoils as Phish, as well as many others. Most entertaining of all might be the 22nd annual Transperformance's emcees: Northampton Poet Laureate Richard Michelson (appearing as John (K)Eats), Pam Victor (as Martha Stewart), Leo T. Baldwin (as Julia Child) and 99.3 The River's Monte Belmonte as the Swedish Chef (sometimes known to two-year-olds as "Borski-Bor"). The audience at the Pines never fails to come alive at this annual shindig, and the hours of dancing barefoot on the grass will not only tire out the kids, it'll also burn off any excess calories from any poor food and beverage choices you might make during the day.
Actual food will be available at booths manned by the folks at La Veracruzana, Bart's Homemade and other local restaurants. The park's rules forbid pets, coolers or outside beverages. Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door ($5 for seniors and $3 for kids under 12); sound and lights are provided by Dan Richardson and Theatrix, respectively. The Transperformance is sponsored by the Northampton Arts Council, FACES, Gravity Switch, Florence Savings Bank, 93.9 The River, the City of Northampton, the Massachusetts Cultural Council and of course, the Valley Advocate. Bon Apetit!
Transperformance 22: Food Groups. Tuesday, Aug. 28, 4-9:30 p.m., $3-10 (parkin $5/vehicle), Pines Theater, Look Park, 300 N. Main St., Florence, (413) 587-1269, www.northamptonartscouncil.org. (Rain Date: Wed., Aug. 29).