Contrary to tequila-fueled myth, the "holiday" doesn't even celebrate Mexican independence, but instead celebrates the Mexican victory over a French colonial army in 1862 at the Battle of Puebla. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy sitting on the patio at Mexican restaurants and being told to be careful because the plate is hot, but if Americans have to stop and celebrate every anniversary of a foreign country's victory over the French army, we'll never get any work done.
Music Midtown isn't quite either. Discuss: Speaking of pseudo-traditions, the big event last week was Music Midtown. I know that people all over the area get really excited about it, but I had a hard time detecting the slightest bit of enthusiasm for it among anyone I know. Perhaps that's because the lineup was overloaded with flavor-of-the-month bands likes Incubus and Puddle of Mudd as well as flavor-of-some-month-in-1994 performers like Bush, Stone Temple Pilots and Counting Crows. I wouldn't have gone either if I had to pay. The whole event appears to be little more than a race among 18- to 35-year-olds to see who can get fucked up the fastest. Judging by all the people I saw who'd clearly vaulted past "fun drunk" into "miserable drunk," I'd say mission accomplished.
The first performer I saw Sunday was rapper Mystikal. He performed on a stage named after three corporate sponsors I refuse to name unless they pay me. Mystikal's mysticism is booty-centered. Much of his rapping is about encouraging the women in the audience to shake their asses. Just to be perfectly clear about his agenda, he even has a song called "Shake Ya Ass." That's not to say that he's booty-exclusive. On the contrary, one of his most memorable songs that afternoon was "Big Truck Driver," a touching declaration of his affinity for luxury SUVs. Another non-ass song of note was one that repeatedly admonished the bitch for being in his way. I understand his annoyance. I, for one, hate it when the bitch is in my way. Most of Mystikal's audience was female. I guess women don't like the bitch in their way any more than men.
I bounced around between stages a lot, but the other two performers I saw the most of were Journey and Ja Rule. Having seen Journey's riveting tale on VH1's "Behind The Music," I wanted to see if the sound-alike that replaced their original lead singer was as sound-alike in person as he was on VH1. He was. He did not though, choose to replicate the original singer's look, opting instead for off-white leather pants and, from a distance, what looked like jheri-curls. Nice.
Aria Two: Earlier Sunday, I went to the opera at the Fox Theatre. The performance was the Atlanta Opera's rendition of Puccini's La Rondine. It's the story of Magda, a banker's mistress who falls in love with the son of the banker's friend over a single drink at a bar. It's just like a Friday in Buckhead, really. The only problem is that he doesn't know she's the banker's mistress. That causes problems in the end. Actually, the real problem was that they fell in love during an opera. Opera romances never last. They usually end dramatically sometime during Act 3.
Stereo Types: Performing Saturday at the Variety Playhouse -- the same night as Music Midtown, thus guaranteeing a low turnout -- was the English band Cornershop. The band's music has a low-key wit that I'm sure I miss most of because the lyrics are sung in Punjabi. Here's one I do get though: The band's singer, Tjinder Singh, is an Englishman of Indian descent. Calling the band Cornershop is the equivalent of an American band with a Korean-descended lead singer calling itself Convenience Store or Dry Cleaner. The performance was heavy on long, groove-oriented songs. The two songs that stood out most were the most immediately melodic ones, including the band's hit, "Brimful of Asha," and a cover of The Beatles' "Norwegian Wood," sung in Punjabi.
Older Budweiser: Bud Light and Maxim magazine threw a party last Wednesday at The Contemporary aimed, according to a knowledgeable source on the scene, at getting 21- to 27-year-olds interested in Bud Light. So, at 28, Bud Light considers me over the hill. Thanks, guys.
There were snacks, free beer, a DJ, and skankily dressed hired dancers. One woman had on an electric blue tankini/leotard (tankinitard?) outfit that made her like a superhero whose power is the ability to out aerobicize the bad guys. Perhaps it was just the free beer, but everyone seemed to be in great spirits. There was lots of dancing and more women grinding their backsides into their male dance partner's crotches than one typically sees on a Wednesday night. Although my crotch remained untouched that night, it was nevertheless a fine outing.