Even a "Best Of" issue as thorough as Creative Loafing's is bound to leave out some categories, so I've devoted this week's edition of Scene & Herd to some of categories the paper forgot.
Best Good-natured Reinforcement of Ethnic Stereotypes: Atlanta Greek Festival. Western civilization is indebted to Greece for its contributions to every aspect of life. Democracy, drama, man-boy love, olive oil and Jennifer Aniston were all given to us by Greece.
Honoring the latest Greek contribution to the culture, this year's festival was informally dubbed by some organizers as "My Big Fat Greek Festival." Indeed, so big and fat was the festival that a fleet of shuttle buses was employed to transport festival-goers to and from the parking lot over a mile away. The buses were plentiful and the trip speedy, though as a high-roller, I was disappointed by the "No Gambling" sticker displayed prominently above the bus driver's head. The ride was short, but there was time for at least a couple of hands of Blackjack.
Off-site parking was necessary because the bulk parking lot of the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation was transformed into an enormous kitchen and dining room. So food-centric was the event that the list of festival chairmen included eight positions under the heading "Pastries." In addition to the pastries, there were plenty of traditional beef and lamb dishes. For those wondering where lamb meat comes from, there was a guy cooking a lamb on a spit underneath an enormous banner reading "Lamb on a Spit."
The rest of the parking lot was devoted to a stage with traditional Greek music and dancing. Groups of costumed young people did traditional Greek dances accompanied by traditional Greek music. Most of the dancing appeared to consist of holding hands and slowly walking in a line. I suppose that after plates of gyros, souvlaki and baklava, that's all Greeks can manage.
My favorite part of the festival was a short lecture inside the church. In case the enormous mosaic Bible scenes on the walls or the 45-foot mosaic Jesus on the domed ceiling didn't make it clear, the lecturer made it very clear that Greek Orthodox Christians love, I mean looooovvvve, Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ do they love Jesus Christ! Such emphasis on the obvious is probably a remnant of religious bigotry directed at Greeks during times when we didn't have other non-Christian faiths at which to direct our bigotry.
Best Harbinger of Death on a Street Corner: The Grim Reaper at the corner of Peachtree and Lenox roads in Buckhead. I'm not dead yet, so I'm not sure why he was standing there. I saw him last Saturday afternoon (I think it was a him) on my way to ...
Best Reason to Repeal the 21st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution: The Lodge in Buckhead, where I joined a fleet of drunks watching college football. The Lodge is known as a safe haven for University of Florida partisans. Nevertheless, Saturday's Georgia vs. Tennessee game still brought out the worst in drunken male humanity. Granted, there was no violence -- but there was an awful lot of yelling.
The most heated yelling match was between a table of three Tennessee fans mocking Georgia fans because UGA football hasn't won a championship in 20 years. Georgia fans retaliated by telling the Tennessee fans that Georgia was, in fact, winning the game. One Georgia fan, trying to argue philosophically, countered that the past doesn't matter, an argument I'm certain he would not have made if Georgia's recent football history were more impressive.
The most convincing pro-Georgia argument was made by recurring Scene & Herd character Matt Gove. Drunker than I've ever seen him, he looked people in the eye and earnestly urged them to respect the Dawgs. When a drunk person who is much larger than you argues a point, it can be quite convincing.
Best Gathering of Women with Fake Beards: Drag King Extravaganza. Ladyfest South's closing ceremony at My Sister's Room in Decatur featured drag performances by Darla and the Rascals, and the Atlanta Kings. Female drag shows (at least the three I've seen) are a lot less comedy-based than the male variety. It's basically just women dressed as men, lip-synching to rock songs to the hoots and hollers of the audience. Emulating one of male rock's most time- honored rituals, there was even a "show us your tits" moment.
Best Place Not to Drink Whiskey and Yell Obscenities: String Fling at the Center for Puppetry Arts. The event is an annual fundraiser for the center's educational programs. Unfortunately, I'm over 42 inches tall, so I couldn't play on the big inflatable plane or spaceship in the center's courtyard. Luckily, there were no height restrictions on the rest of the festival. Inside, people toured the center's museum. Among the museum's exhibit pieces is Izzy, the blue, fuzzy thing that served (if you can call it that) as the mascot for the 1996 Olympics. The museum's most remarkable piece, however, is the nearly life-size puppet rendition of '80s pop singers the Pointer Sisters. I'm not sure why they have it, but I do know that it has completely changed my interpretation of the Pointer Sister's hit "Slow Hand."
Best Employee Anywhere, Ever: The Center for Puppetry Arts volunteer who warmly patted me on the back and said, "You're doing a very good job," while I decorated a kangaroo puppet with a bunch of kids.