I went to the North Georgia Fair last Sunday in Marietta and had a peak Scene & Herd experience. Within moments of arriving at the fair, I saw animals, children, funny signs and a stack of idiots. There was one spot that, if I stood for about 20 minutes making notes and taking photos, would have provided me with enough material for a month of Scene & Herds, and maybe even a Don't Panic.
Let's start with the animals. For just $1, fairgoers could take a gander at Big Edd, the so-called world's largest steer. Presumably, the extra "d" in Edd is for "Damn! That's a big steer." I'm not sure exactly how big Big Edd is, except that he's very difficult to lift and even harder to squeeze into the back seat of a sedan. I don't know what I was thinking.
Not far from Big Edd was the world's biggest pig. Porky is 1,100 pounds, but only 50 cents to see. He's actually far more impressive than Big Edd, if only because of his honeydew-sized scrotum.
Across from Porky was the World's Smallest Horse. Clark Howard fans should note that, at 50 cents, he's the most expensive animal per pound of viewing. Perhaps aware of the horse's high unit price, the keepers of the tent have painted the word "alive" on their sign. Indeed, 50 cents for a small dead horse is exorbitant.
A short walk toward the crafts barn and I happened upon a group of loud rednecks declaring their anger at Gov. Roy Barnes for removing the Confederate flag as the dominant image on our state flag. The centerpiece of their stars 'n' bars-festooned demonstration was a rat dressed as a king with a sign that said, "King Rat Roy Barnes." Their chant included something about Barnes kowtowing to liberals and the politically correct. For some people, it seems that Georgia's just been heading downhill since abolition.
Oh yeah, then there were the children. There was a barn near one of the entrances with all sorts of livestock. The barn was filled with kids doing one of my favorite kid things, pointing at something and blurting out the thing's name. "Sheep!" "Ducks!" "Chickens!" Imagine how much more fun adult life would be if we did the same. "Invoice!" "Vice President of Operations!" "Spreadsheets!"
The Necklace: The 99X Big Day Out concert was last Saturday at the Amphitheatre Formerly Known as Lakewood (dear HiFi Buys, for $500, I'll extend your naming rights for the venue to this column). In addition to being a fine opportunity to get muddy, drunk and modern-rocked up, it was also a perfect opportunity to witness the phenomenon of The Necklace.
Contemporary teenage necks seem naked without some sort of cheap choker made with beads, wood or shells. The Necklace is to teens what photo ID badges are for adults. For concert-goers who came without, there were several vendors selling The Necklace. It's worth noting that the loser of the one fight I saw was a teen who was not wearing The Necklace. Perhaps the Necklace is a protective talisman. It's also worth noting that the loser of the fight was shirtless and had a "Don't Be A Dickhead" sticker affixed to his chest. Having had a brief conversation with him shortly before he was decked, I can testify that he failed to heed his sticker's mantra.
As for the music, hats off to 99X for including The Roots on the bill. They're not rock, but at least they're modern. Headliners Stone Temple Pilots went over well with the crowd, despite not being "New Rock" since 1993. Singer Scott Weiland has a great stage presence and great pants.
Kegger: This newspaper was a sponsor of the 2002 Brewer's Ball, a fancy-dress kegger at the Freight Depot downtown benefiting the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. The event takes its name from the local brew pubs and microbreweries that provide the fantastic beer for the event. A lot of breweries are bringing out their seasonal, Oktoberfest beers (the "k" is for "kwality"), so it's a fine time to go local.
In addition to beer, food and music by a band called Class Act, there was an enormous train set to play with, courtesy of the North Georgia Tinplate Trackers, and a silent auction. The strangest auction item I saw was a painting of golfer Larry Mize, depicting four Mizes in different stages of putting, and a fifth disembodied Mize head over the hole. Other than the painting of Nicholas Cage for sale at Peachtree Center Mall, it's the spookiest celebrity portrait I've ever seen.
Dog Bless You: My deep-seated skepticism and cynicism can almost always be short-circuited by my dog, Mathilde. She makes everything good. On Sunday though, she took her powers to a new level by getting me to temporarily suspend my atheism. Mathilde and I attended The Festival of St. Francis and the Blessing of the Animals at Peachtree Christian Church. During a short ceremony, Mathilde and several other pets were blessed with water from a chalice from Assisi, the Italian town that was home to St. Francis, patron saint of Animals.
The most enthusiastic group was a pack of bloodhounds to our left. They barked what I assume were canine amens at all the appropriate times. To their left was a short hair named Wilcox. He didn't bark, but instead had an erection for most of the ceremony. Mathilde just sat under my chair and listened politely. Now that she's blessed, I wonder if she'll stop humping the pillows on my couch.