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A year in rebuke

What I Scene & Herd in 2004

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I wasn't in Atlanta on Christmas weekend. I was in Maryland visiting my parents. Although I'm certain that you, the dear reader, would be riveted by the stories I can tell you about arguing with my mom about whether my winter coat is warm enough, or about teaching my father, for the third consecutive year, how to send and receive e-mail, my editor has another idea. She wants me to write a Scene & Herd: 2004 Year In Review. That's fine by me. It gives me a chance to talk about some interesting events in a little more depth. Besides, if I vented to all of you about my family visit, I wouldn't have anything to talk about with my therapist.

Let's start with a picture. Without a doubt, the picture I got the most comments on this year was the picture I took of a one-eyed pirate dog. He was dressed like a pirate because he was at the Renaissance Festival. As those of you who've studied European history know, before they were loyal household pets, dogs terrorized seafarers for centuries from small ships.

Your pick for Scene & Herd Event of the Year is definitely the T.D. Jakes-sponsored late-June God convention, Mega Fest. I'm basing "Event of the Year" status solely on the number of times that people came up to me and started conversations with statements like "Are you that guy? Great. I love that thing you wrote about ..." I realize that's a highly unscientific way of measuring an event's popularity, but when you consider that Mega Fest was a gathering of people who reject fundamental tenets of science, it's somehow appropriate.

Just to refresh your memory a bit, Mega Fest (see www.atlanta.creativeloafing. com/2004-07-01/scene.html for the original column) was a multi-day religious convention at the Georgia Dome and Georgia World Congress Center that drew over 100,000 people. Something that I don't think I adequately conveyed about the event the first time I wrote about it was the sheer volume of merchandise for sale. Nearly everyone who spoke had multiple self-help audio and video cassettes for sale. Interestingly, the themes weren't particularly spiritual or theological in nature. My favorite item was a salvation kit containing cassettes and a prayer shawl. It cost several hundred dollars and was made up to look like a medical first aid kit.

My favorite "didn't tell you when I first wrote about it" story about Mega Fest involves a man I know who works for the Georgia Dome. Let's be all New York Times about this and call him a Senior Dome Official. According to the Dome Official, who I spoke to once at the event and once again last month, Mega Fest attendees were undoubtedly the rudest group of people he'd ever interacted with at the Dome. He says that they were stuck up as hell and that there were repeated tense and hostile exchanges between Mega Fest attendees and concessions staff. The tension and hostility dissipated, he explained, after Dome officials replaced white concessions staff members with black ones (Mega Fest's attendees were mostly black). So much for everyone being God's children.

What was my favorite event of the year? It wasn't really an event. It was actually just reaction to an event. Last Valentine's Day weekend, my girlfriend and I (at her request) went to the Wired & Fired pottery store in Virginia-Highland. I explained in the column (it's online at www.atlanta.creativeloafing. com/2004-02-19/scene.html) that decorating pottery was about as pleasurable an activity to me as daubing my genitals in hot sauce. In semi-protest, I drew bloody, gory pictures on my vase and covered it with words like "Die" and "Slaughter."

Well, the manager of Wired & Fired wasn't too happy with what I wrote or the vase I made. When my girlfriend went back to the store the following week to pick up the pottery (which, by the way, we paid for -- it wasn't some media freebie), she proceeded to scream at my girlfriend in front of the entire store about what I wrote and about my death-themed vase. Never mind that my girlfriend doesn't write this column, nor did she make the offending pottery (she decorated her vase with a lollipop meadow). The manager finished her rant with a promise to get me fired.

Thrilled by the story, I called the manager myself later that week and politely, but smugly I admit, gave her my editor's phone number. As much as I'd like an extended vacation, I still haven't been fired.

andisheh@creativeloafing.com

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