Giving new meaning to the expression "Jesus saves," this past Easter weekend coincided with a statewide sales tax holiday. Surprisingly, for a heathen, Easter was by far the more meaningful to me of the two holidays. I tried to celebrate the sales tax holiday by buying some computer software that I thought was tax exempt, but the sales clerk told me that software was tax exempt only if purchased with a computer. Annoyed, I went home and consulted the state's list of tax exempt items and found that the clerk was right: Corsets, bandanas and diapers (adult and baby) were tax exempt. Computer virus software purchased alone was not. So much for the tax holiday.
I celebrated Easter by checking out Lake Claire's Easter parade Sunday. The parade started in front of the Clifton Presbyterian Church, although I don't really know if the church itself had anything to do with the parade. The 20 or so paraders were a motley gang of mostly women and children. The women were dressed elaborately, though not uniformly. There were a few women dressed in seemingly ironic Sunday best outfits, complete with dainty hats. There was a woman dressed in a frilly, pagan-ish looking outfit who had envelopes of seeds taped to her hat. She punctuated her marching every so often by ululating. Another woman wore a hat made from a fake watermelon wedge. She marched alongside a little girl wearing a paper shark hat. One woman, who wasn't wearing a costume, did have a crucifix sticker on her arm, which she repeatedly pointed to while saying, "That's what it's all about, man." Among the paraders were several dogs, most of whom wore costumes as well. In an apparent display of jealousy or possibly even religious intolerance, several neighborhood dogs that were not participating in the parade barked angrily at the parading dogs from the safety of their homes and yards. Bigots.
The parade wound through the side streets of Lake Claire and into Candler Park, cheering everyone we saw along the way. As we passed the Flying Biscuit restaurant, one of the paraders yelled, "Let's cheer the people eating breakfast," which we did.
As we marched, we all played tunes on the kazoos handed out at the beginning of the parade. Among the selections played were many traditional Easter tunes such as "Yellow Submarine," "God Bless America," "Tiptoe Through the Tulips" and that all-time Easter classic, "The Age of Aquarius." Apparently last year's parade had a young trumpeter who knew a bunch of good tunes, but according to one parader he was unable to participate this year because "he's in a sling.".
Pure comedy: Last Tuesday, Smith's Olde Bar hosted a stand-up comedy show that the evening's hosts distinguished from other stand-up performances by enthusiastically noting that the event was "pure comedy." That boast prompted the person seated next to me to turn to me and say, "I guess that means they don't cut it with anything."
As always with group performances, the comedy is hit-or-miss. For every good comic, there's at least one bad one. One of my stand-up comedy pet peeves is when a comic tells a joke that falls flat and immediately blames the audience for not getting it by saying something like, "That went over your heads," or "You'll get that on the way home." One comic did that at Smith's and it was particularly bothersome because he performed immediately after a much more highbrow performer who completely connected with the audience.
Please don't blame us if we don't laugh.
My favorite performer of the evening happened to be a friend of mine, Colleen O'Hare. She performed entirely in character, taking the stage as a pretentious, alcoholic writer, poet, novelist, feng shui consultant named Carrie. After sharing some of her art with us as Carrie, she became Simone, an awkward young girl with anger issues whose childish musings include a painting with "Die baby die" written across it. Her final character was a repressed, Southern sex-ed nurse named Beulah who warns girls of the dangers of having sex. Beulah's tagline, a drawled, "Uh-huh. That's great," could be the "You look mah-velous!" of our generation if it ever gets on TV.
Go Turtles: The Final Four was last weekend and even though it's all a bit anti-climactic because Maryland is obviously the best team ever (full disclosure: class of '94), I still decided to cover it by going to the packed Jocks & Jills sports bar in Midtown. I went during the Maryland-Kansas game. I took my girlfriend and her friend, a doctoral student in cultural anthropology. Since she's doing her dissertation on race relations, she decided to count everyone she could see from where she stood. She counted 55 men and 18 women, six black, the rest white. My girlfriend was apparently counting as well, but the only results she felt compelled to report was a wide-eyed, "There sure are a lot of boys here."
Aural fixation: Audiobridge is a local rock band that continues in the long tradition of bands giving themselves made up sound-related compound-word names (Radiohead, Stereolab, Soundgarden, etc.). I saw them perform at Smith's Olde Bar Saturday night. They're a guitar band whose echo-laden, big-song sound evokes '80s bands like Echo & the Bunnymen, Simple Minds, The Cure and U2. The singer has magnificent, thick curly hair that also puts him in league with some of the bands obvious '80s inspirations. They played a good set, the flow of which was interrupted somewhat by their invitation to an unnervingly chiseled-jawed, manly-man to join them on stage to sing. He sang fine, but I kept expecting the underwear ad that he escaped from to come looking for him.