Sunday, October 29, 2017

The 2017 L5P Halloween Parade: A Spiritual Oddyssey Into Adulthood

The sights and sounds of the most hipster-tastic Halloween festival in North America ... and further proof that I'm getting WAY too old for this shit.


By: Jimbo X
JimboXAmerican@gmail.com
@JimboX

I'm not sure the exact moment - maybe it was in between the Rick and Morty float and the proud march of the pro-marijuana activists waving cannabis flags - but there was this downright revelatory moment at the 2017 Little 5 Points Halloween Parade and Festival in Atlanta where my girlfriend looked me in the eyes and meekly quipped "are we too old for this?" 

And I knew, right then and there, that we were. It's been about four years since I last visited the L5P parade, and since then, the event - and apparently, myself - has grown up immensely. The last time I was at the parade, maybe a couple of hundred people showed up. It was crowded, to be sure, but it was absolutely nothing like what me and my gal saw a couple of weeks back. Not just hundreds but thousands of people were there, clogging up the sidewalk to catch a glimpse of people cosplaying as Wayne and Garth and driving homemade Ghostbusters-mobiles. Whatever quirky intimacy the event may have had just a few years back was now a distant memory. The new Little 5 Points parade - and really, Little 5 Points itself - was now just another over-commercialized, painfully mainstream social phenomenon. Whereas it was once a kooky autumnal rite for the Drive-Invasion set, the festival has now become an addendum to Dragon*Con weekend, drawing every pop-culture-worshiping, mass consumption-addicted dork, dweeb and geek within a 100 mile radius.

Very, very early on, me and my GF both realized these are not our kind of people. In between the 400 pound women dressed like dinosaurs and the small armada of Walking Dead cosplayers carrying around plastic axes and the people in rainbow wigs smoking pot in public and the menagerie of homosexuals literally playing with each other's buttholes in broad daylight, there was really no country for me anymore. The whole thing had devolved into a celebration of urban fantasy crosspolinated with the official state religion of the 21st century, nerd culture. It's an event where people, obviously dissatisfied with who they are as individual members of society, try to subsume their identities into the guises of more famous, more beloved and more important figures, almost all of whom are either wholly fictitious or brazenly stylized re-interpretations of real (and much more important) people. You don't have to be Freud of Jung to pick up on the cultural subtext here. This isn't a "parade," it's a mass catharsis for unhappy, unfulfilled people to vicariously experience "popularity" and "significance," with the added hope of garnering a surfeit of virtual affirmations through the inevitable wave of Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat photos taken from said festivities. Oh, and it's also a great opportunity to wait three hours in line at Starbucks and hop over homeless people while being pushed through an endless wave of costumed weirdos who reek of pot and deodorant-devoid armpits, just like fish caught in a whirlpool, of course.

But it's not just that the parade changed, the entire environs has changed, too. Just three years ago Little 5 Points was still a scummy, fairly creepy hippie-homo-dope-addict-communist utopia with great pizza and at least one really good used records store. But today, the inescapable wave of gentrification - most palpably demonstrated by the emergence of the "Belt Line," a giant, taxpayer-subsidized bicycle path wrapping around the perimeter that, despite being built for affordable housing, has actually led to property values skyrocketing and poor black people getting tossed out of town en masse - has transformed the Virginia Highlands section of Atlanta into a neo-yuppie hipster nightmare made flesh. Not too long ago these were the kinds of streets the Fabulous Freebirds wrote odes to, the kinds of neighborhoods it wouldn't be uncommon to see the likes of Curtis Snow prowling about. But today, it's almost like an apartheid Bernie Sanders supporters city-state unto itself, this miniature Vatican of upscale, transplanted white liberals who make $100,000 a year doing social media management and I.T. work for designer dildo upstarts and don't mind paying $2,000 a month for studio apartments because it gives them the luxury and privilege of being able to say they live in the "happening" part of town. It's going to sound facetious, I know, but I really did like the neighborhood back when it was seedy and scummy and littered with crackheads and paranoid schizophrenics and people named Chauncey trying to sell me LSD out of a Diet Pepsi bottle. Authentically dangerous, I can do, but artificially sanitary is out of the damn question.

I've never been one for big events, these spectacles where you have thousands upon thousands of people who all believe the same thing and celebrate the same ideals and hold the exact same set of values and principles all brushing up together and tooting each other's horn. And that hive mind was on full display at the parade, for sure. I just knew that the brains and the innermost thoughts of most of these attendees were practically interchangeable. I was stuck beside this one fat, bearded, late 30s/early 40s fedora-wearing asshole who kept spouting catch phrases and one-liners every time somebody dressed up like a famous pop cultural figure passed by. "Party on, dudes!" he yelled when Saturday Night Live doppelgangers in a baby blue AMC Pacer drove by. "Who you gonna' call!" he yelled when a facsimile of the ECTO-1 pulled through. "I'm pickle Rick!" he screamed - literally screamed - as a small platoon of Rick and Morty cosplayers strolled down the road. It soon dawned upon me that this dude's whole vernacular - the very way he perceived the world - was only in terms of pop cultural reference points. Without those pre-existing entertainment anchors, he wouldn't have anything to say, nor have a means to even analyze and process the world around him. Four decades of cable television and Internet memes had rendered the poor sap a consumer class imbecile, a sorry sort incapable of making heads or tails of his own subjective experiences without framing it around the pre-existing template of pop culture. Interestingly enough, my girlfriend was saddled side-by-side with his gender swapped-analogue - the vapid, 20-something social media queen who genuinely had no clue who or what the costumed characters were supposed to be, but was nonetheless snapping photo after photo simply so she could show it to the great Internet hoi polloi and score a deluge of likes, tweets and shares in her honor. And of course, the two great sins of the post Obama-age - pop culture-borne solipsism and social media-fueled egotism - came to a head to celebrate the ultimate American transgression, vapid consumerism. Who knows how many bank accounts were needlessly drained for useless tchotchkes and knickknacks. the sort of instant-nostalgia baiting superfluity that comes in the form of key chains and tee-shirts and crappy Etsy-caliber jewelry bearing only the slightest resemblance to particular pop cultural characters. Spending IS experience, the cycle continues. Spending IS experience

Hoo-ray, I get to breathe in other people's carbon dioxide and shit!

But the thing that really got me the most was watching the woefully confused five and six year old kids - many of whom were dressed by mom and dad like famous fictitious psycho killers a'la Chucky and Jason - trying desperately to make sense of all the nonsense in front of them. There they were, basically sitting in the front pew of the Great American Church of Consumer Culture Assimilation. The lines between reality and fantasy blurred, as did the lines between the space of the individual and the space of the collective. From this early age they are learning the value of aesthetics and the significance of role-play, completely confusing the notions of self-as-is and self-as-idealized. I can only imagine the questions these poor, impressionable tykes were mulling as the watched throngs of stinky, smelly and overweight people yell "LEGALIZE IT!" while dressed like pot leafs, or wondering what the hell was going on as 40-year-old men in belly shirts gave each other amateur prostate exams in the front of God and everybody. It's just too much for a mind so fragile to be forced to interpret. Weaned on a steady diet of identity-politics-informed pop culture, I can only imagine the uptick in teen suicides once these kids realize how abysmally shallow and pointless the ways of their parents are. Kids may not be able to understand much about the adult word, but they understand the ugliness and wastefulness of their elders. Which begs the question: when the morality of your parents is smoking weed and hating religion and celebrating gay marriage and promoting sex-changing hormone therapies for kindergartners and lite-socialism and Star Wars, when it comes time to rebel against the old order, what counter-ideology will they call their own?

It's going to seem like a stretch to say that witnessing one hipster-baiting parade caused me to reevaluate my entire life, but I assure you, it did. What kind of life is being a shameless slave to the pop cultural master ideology, anyway? What's so great about living in an overcrowded, multicultural utopia where everything is overpriced, it takes 20 minutes to walk a quarter of a mile and the roadways are glutted with bicyclists and speed walkers and Lyft drivers on the prowl for fresh pieces of meat? Is this the new America, where we're all corralled into a drive-by of absurdities while security guards in tight blue shorts do a terrible job guiding traffic? If all you're doing is just sitting there in the dirt, vaping and drinking beer and chowing down on $6.25 enchiladas out of a food truck operated by a guy that doesn't wash his hands or wipe his ass - and that's all you're doing - is it any wonder you're depressed and unsatisfied with the way your life is going?

The spectatorial life of the Little 5 Points flock might be fine and dandy for a 22-year-old, but at the ripe old age of 31, this kinda' shit doesn't appeal to me anymore. There are too many people, too much traffic, and the backbreaker, too much waiting. There's no reason for anybody in the year 2017 to spend three hours waiting in line for a pizza, and there's no reason why anybody who is over the age of 30 should be screaming "look, it's Cousin Eddie!" with the glee of a retarded eight-year-old while some mute cosplayer holds a sign reading "shitter's full." There are only so many skanks in weird lipstick colors and so many people dressed up like zombies and so many people only communicating in the tongue of a common pop cultural ancestry that you can trudge through before you grow tired of all the insincerity. It reminds me a lot of visiting Music Midtown (for which I spent more than $200 to attend) a few years back, and having buckets of rain pouring down my underwear while muddy pot-heads and literally shit-covered drunk dudes kept falling down in front of me over and over again. No, this was not worth it to hear Weezer or Tegan and Sara, I thought to myself. These are not my people, this is not my type of event and this is most certainly not where I want to be in life. 

And this much, I know: whatever the Little 5 Points parade (and by default, Little 5 Points itself) represents these days? I don't want any damn part of it no more. Like Roger Murtaugh, I'm just too old for this shit. I always dreaded being that guy, the old fuck who doesn't have "young people fun" anymore, but now that the moment has finally arrived, it almost feels like deliverance of sorts

Today, I, one Jimbo X. American, am officially unhip, uncool, and no longer, as the kids say, "with it." And instead of bemoaning my "loss" of coolness, I'm going to celebrate my newfound crotchetiness, that almost pathological revulsion of the mainstream, the popular, and most especially the emblematic of the youthful. Today, I embrace the natural state of idiomaticy, that compelling desire to steer clear of crowds, wasteful spending and spectacle events. You young 'uns can enjoy your unthinking immersion into in-group imperialism and your hyper conformity to cultural-collectivism; I reckon I'm just going to have to be a real individual, and a real being-in-the-world, instead.

But then again, since we are already here, howzabout we take a good long gander at a whole buncha' photographs of miscellaneous people dressed up like hoochies, goofballs and assorted assholes of all, shapes, sizes, colors and creeds? Yeah - I figured that's what you were really here for, anyway.


These things are going to play out like Where's Waldo books. There's a lot of stuff to take in at once, and at first glance, you're liable to overlook the real money shot. For example, in this photo, you're probably getting an eyeful of that one blonde chick twirling her hair. Of course, all you have to do is scoot over a couple of centimeters to the left and BAM! It's bicycle shorts-clad ass, right in your fucking face


So here, we've got adult Elvis and child Elvis. And also, a really pale blonde girl with a camera and a biracial sorta' chubster with nearly knee high tube socks. And then there's that profound ass, right there at the bottom right hand corner of the screen. But you know what I'm gawping at? How fucking small that dude in the blue hat front and center's head is. Motherfucker's gotta' dome so tiny, he could probably inspect the inside of a pipe cleaner.


Now I'm kinda' proud of this shot. You have to remember, all of these guys are moving targets, and using my ghetto-ass camera with the built-in stability feature I can't turn off, most of the in-motion photos I take just look like a blurry ass light show. Alas, using my split-second reflexes honed from years and years of playing SHMUPS on the TurboGrafx-16 and Sega Genesis, I was nonetheless able to land this (relatively) in-focus shot of the red-robed Misfits skeleton motherfucker. Granted, it's no Pulitzer candidate, but considering the technological restraints here, I still reckon I deserve a pat on the back.


You know, you really don't see that many black dudes fronting shitty alt-punk bands that will never, ever make money in their lifetimes. So cherish this moment for as long as you live.


And here's an alternate shot of shitty alt-punk black guitar man. Only this time, his head is a tree limb. Personally, *I* consider it an improvement, but your mileage may vary.


Of course, a Conehead was sure to show up at some point. You know, like the one that just fucking showed up in that one Cyndi Lauper video, for literally no discernible reason. But let's not discount the other visuals of note here, including unspecified ethnicity Georgia Bulldogs supporter, statistically representative overweight black woman, that scrawny geek in the "Fort for Atlanta Mayor" shirt and the presumably Hispanic dude, who may or may not be perpetrating an active sex crime against the pink haired chick.


Of course furries would show up at some point. They always fucking do whenever you THINK you're about to have a good time.


I can't remember what this float was promoting, but I do vividly recall the guy down in front dressed up like a banana receiving a hug from somebody in a Minion costume, which was genuinely one of the most adorable things I've ever seen. Man, I really hope neither of those guys are sex offenders. I really, really do.


So we've got a dude dressed up like Rick from Rick and Morty carrying his kid (I assume that is his kid, anyway) in a papoose while some (presumably Muslim) woman in a head scarf grabs his hand. Oh, and black Wonder Woman is in their somewhere, along with a guy dressed up like a zebra apparently accosting a young Hispanic child. Ironically enough, there's a guy wearing a Penn State shirt directly in the background, which may or may not be hideous, hideous foreshadowing.


Not a whole lot to say about this one. Except of course, "why are the pink wigs so dadgum popular?"


Naturally, your eyes wanna' steer towards the Elder Scrolls demon giving Minnie Mouse a staredown, but don't overlook the literal Pedo-Bear in the top right hand corner, neither.


Dude dressed his car up like a demon. Alas, the effect is kinda' lost if the driver is just some fat guy in an Atlanta United jersey ...

This being an election year and all, several Atlanta mayoral candidates were on hand to celebrate the festivities. Needless to say, it looks like Cathy Woolard has the city's gay vote in the book.


More Cathy Woolard supporters. Or maybe it's just somebody holding up a Cathy Woolard sign in front of a wholly unrelated float. Like anybody cares, though.


And here come the pro-marijuana lobbyists marching down the street with their pot-leaf inspired flags. I can only imagine the conversations this sparked for hipster parents and their precocious elementary-aged students on the ride home.


Hey, it's some tall asshole, and for once, he's not participating in a NBA game!


With the outdoor temperature an easy 80 degrees Fahrenheit, I take it the individual underneath the dinosaur astronaut costume immediately regretted the choice after about ten minutes on the prowl.


Looks like a fake medicl dummy is about to get torn asunder by some S&M leather freak. You know, because it's good, clean fun for the whole family.


Here's the thing about hosting a Halloween parade in Little 5 Points; you really can't tell if these people are wearing costumes, or if that's how they *choose* to dress on any given day. Also: get a load of that one bitch in the lower left hand corner digging for gold like there's no tomorrow.


Nope. I still have no idea why Hocus Pocus is so beloved either, folks.


If that guy looks vaguely familiar, he should. That's Shane Morton, a.k.a. Professor Morte, who is a regular at any and all horror-themed events in Atlanta. As to whether or not he's an abuser and molester of children, though, I can't give you a concrete verdict one way or another - all I know is that if he has, he hasn't been caught yet.


Members of the actual Satanic Temple had their own float for the event. For those of you not in the know, these are the people who are always trying to take local governments and public school systems to task for promoting religious programming. So naturally, they decided the best way to get normies to think of them as decent, upstanding people was to dress up like background characters from The Devil's Rain ...


... and then promote their anti-gospel gospel by doing a live, public S&M act in front of children. Shit, these people know public relations like a motherfucker, don't they?


I noticed a lot of people had Atlanta United gear on for the event. Note: if anybody has anything with the Atlanta United logo on it, rest assured, they are white hipster pieces of shit and fuck them. Hard.


But is it the same inflatable dinosaur from last summer's Southern-Fried Gameroom Expo? Eh - maybe.


So these guys dressed like rockets sang "American Girl" by Tom Petty. It wasn't that great, but compared to the screeching beluga whale rape-sounding cover of "Search and Destroy" an earlier band performed, it was manna for the eardrum.


No idea who the papier-mache head guy is supposed to be, but for whatever reason, he reminded me of Steven Spielberg. Which means the young 'uns best steer clear of 'em if they know what's good for 'em ...


Sorry, but the only Blue Meanies I care about are the ones that used to be in ECW.


Oh, this bitch. Outside of sporting some very Euro-tastic armpit hair, she also felt they need to interpretive dance to Michael Jackson's music, nearly poking out a couple of passersby eyeballs in the process. Shit, if this is the kinda' person that voted for her, no wonder Hillary Clinton lost.


You know, it takes a lot of guts to dress up like He-Man in public. No, wait, that's not true - all it takes is a profound lack of shame and a father who clearly did not give a shit about raising his son right.


Take note, Instagram skanks - if you REALLY want to whore it up for attention, skip the trampy clothing and bring a goddamn python with you everywhere you go. Shit, the last time a guy had this many kids touching his snake, Disney wound up giving him a three picture deal.


And lastly, we end with the only photo you could possibly end such an article with - morbidly obese black Jason. So does that mean he passes out from oxygen deprivation after half a minute of sprinting after his prey, or do the cops show up five minutes in the movie and shoot him 450 times before he can even pick up his machete?

Pic, most definitely related.

Of course, there were a lot of other things that happened during the parade that forever turned me off to ever going back to another one of these fucking things, ranging from the guy who ran up to me, put his arm around my shoulders and told me a long, rambling story about purportedly designing the t-shirt I bought from Kohl's and being stuck behind this monstrous party truck that kept blaring War's Greatest Hits Live for half a goddamn hour. I think back to the last festival I went to, where me and my gal pal had to walk down Auburn Avenue right at sundown, half expecting to be attacked by a roving gang of identically clad thugs a'la Streets of Rage. As terrifying as journeying through the heart of urban hell to make it back to the Toyota Corolla may have been, I'd much rather experience the legitimate seclusion and peril of that to the unbearable syntheticness that the L5P parade - and really, the whole L5P/Virginia Highlands area - has become these days.

This is one of the reasons why I LOATHE Atlanta. Even over the past ten years I've watched it grow into a grotesque furuncle of transplanted, liberal white assholes who are hell-bent on razing the whole downtown area and rebuilding the ashes into their elitist, faux-socialist, weekend bicyclist utopia. I keep telling concerned people of color, the alt right isn't the kind of white people you ought to be afraid of, it's THESE kinds of white people, the ones who hail from overwhelmingly white suburban strongholds and have no qualms about evicting blacks en masse to found their new Bernie Sanders hipster shangri-la where YOUR affordable housing used to be. Who wants to live in a neighborhood where the biking lanes are bigger than the actual roadways and a studio apartment costs $1,300 a month, and it takes three goddamn hours to get ONE slice of pepperoni pizza from the local pizzeria? That's right, only one kind of people, and that's asshole white liberals, that's who.

After the parade, me and my other of significance were so pissed we drove 50 miles out of our way to get some Aurelio's Pizza and pumpkin spice coffee at a Kangaroo gas station. You see, in an era where the mythology of the urban hipster stronghold reigns supreme, the most countrercultural (mayhap even revolutionary) thing you can do is embrace the unhip and the contrived and the commonplace. It's a bit of an overbroad generalization, but pretty much everything the revelers at L5P celebrate and believe in, it's probably a good idea to embrace its exact opposite just out of spite. If they're into goofball Stranger Things and Star Wars pop cultural religions, you hit 'em right back by reading the works of Stoic philosophers and systematic theologians. If they're all about smoking weed and Whole Foods, you retaliate by watching a whole buncha' 1980s vigilante action movies and eating nothing but Dollar Tree inventory for weeks at a time. If they think bicycling and voting for democratic socialist wingbats are the be all-end all, you stick it to them by starting no-fee community vale tudo clubs and reading every goddamn thing F.A. Hayek's written front to back, multiple times. And if they're extolling the virtues of craft beer and taxpayer subsidized hybrid cars, you drive your shitty ass 1987 Chevy Blazer to Sonic and you get a full-sized, Route 66 jug of Diet Dr. Pepper with the .35 cent extra vanilla add-in flavor and you drink it with pride, poise and dignity. And most importantly, if they're vaunting "new urbanism" and "walkability" as driving dogmas of the day, you celebrate the McDonaldization of society like a mother fucker and enjoy paying half as much money for twice as much living space in the exurbs. Hey, if they're willing to live in objectively shittier living arrangements just because it gives them a false sense of cosmopolitan identity, I say rub their financial illiteracy in their faces as much as you can.

Outside the perimeter is the best perimeter, you classist cocksuckers.

Maybe this newfound resentment of new-wave hipster urbanism/professional class Milliennial supremacism isn't all that newfound, though. My whole life I've grown up on the outskirts of society, and one of the great tragedies of my lifetime is watching the dual slow creep of urbanization into the sticks and the de-ruralization of the exurbs by money hungry developers and Yankee transplants. On one end you've got white liberal gentrification pushing poor people into neighboring counties (who aren't even remotely able to serve the influx of social service cases and don't even have the housing stock or readily available jobs to keep 'em all off welfare) and on the other end, you've got carpetbaggers from out-of-state coming down here and buying up all the grassland and churning up the former farmland and woodland so they can have houses that would cost $3 million in San Fran or Chicago for just $250,000 about 50 miles north of Atlanta.

When you go to events like the L5P parade, you realize the redneck rapists in Deliverance were actually THE GOOD GUYS. What were they doing, besides defending their home turf from people who wanted to take their property and force them out of their own backyard?  Well, that's the story of Atlanta right now. The poor blacks inside the perimeter are getting forced into the exurbs by fly-by-night SEO marketers and Aurora Coffee sippers from Indiana named Chad and urban supremacist-idolizers from Alpharetta named Rachel, while all of the poor whites in the borderlands around the perimeter are being dispossessed by Hispanic and Asian migrants if not flat out thrown out of their homes by U.N. mandates demanding more 'diversity' in the zip code. Meanwhile, all of the rural communities are literally dying before our eyes ... if not from rapid depopulization, then because of legislators redirecting state funding to the more populous (and ever expanding) urban nuclei.

And THAT, ultimately, is what the L5P Halloween parade - and, by default, Little 5 Points itself - actually celebrates now. It's a great big, ideological circle jerk in which "the enlightened" get together and suck each other's "new urbanism" boners and vicariously piss on the "uncool" and "unclean" denizens of the unheard and unseen majority living beyond the confines of I-285. There's is very much a post Obama Wiemar Republic, a mega-capitalist, hyper-ethnocentric and brazenly class-obsessed in-post sustained on a steady diet of smug, self-absorbed SES supremacism and all the false idolatry - the medical marijuana, the Rick and Morty references, not to mention the woefully hypocritical embrace of pseudo-socialism and multiculturalism, when they themselves are wealthy as fuck and actively strive to push poor minorities out of their own neighborhoods -  that comes attached with the whole Nu-Yuppie ideology.

And that, naturally, is something I don't believe is worthy of celebrating. Enjoy your craven, ceaseless worship of all things mass commercialized pop culture and self-espousing zip code elitism and unacknowledged reverse-segregation ideals, kids. I'll be too busy being an adult OTP, and unlike you, able to breathe easy and stretch my legs without stepping in a pile of somebody else's bullshit.

2 comments:

  1. You've finally had your fill of modern society's versions of Romanesque "Bread and Circuses".
    I'm not much on large crowds myself, as I find too many people to be domineering and way too rowdy and bossy (and immensely space-hogging).
    If one really likes music there's the home stereo system, mp3s or online broadcasts. If one enjoys ballgames, movies, concerts or theater there's traditional TV or podcasts.

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  2. Hahahahah I totally disagree with your hatred of pop culture but dammit jumbo I love your points of view.

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