Happy Vigilance Day 

Everyone's drunk but me

Independence Day was a slightly confusing holiday for me this year. In response to fears of terrorism, President Bush went all Andrew W.K. on us by repeatedly asking the nation to "celebrate heartily." At the same time, we had the FBI and Colin Powell warning us to be "vigilant." Celebrate heartily, but be vigilant. Thanks guys. It's kind of like writing "7-7:45, be spontaneous" in your planner.

I was worried and wanted to be vigilant, but short of attending a vigil, I don't know how. With the caffeine from 44 ounces of Diet Coke, the best I could manage was tense with a slight stammer. I spent my Fourth at Lenox Square, cold-kickin' it in the VIP viewing area tent. Upon my entrance, I was actually subjected to profiling by a zealous security guard. He accused me of sneaking into the tent and insisted that I return to the main gate with him to make sure that I was on the guest list. I don't think it was profiling based on my appearance though. I think it was because I had my bicycle with me. There's nothing more suspicious to some Atlantans than traveling without a car.

Profiling aside, the party was nice. Among the culinary delights was a snow cone machine with three different flavors. Green was the best. Another great feature was portable toilets. I would like to take this opportunity to salute the portable toilet industry for the fantastic advances it has made in the field of odor reduction. These toilets smelled less like toilets than most non-portable toilets do.

Party guests, other than me, included Gov. Roy Barnes, Mayor Shirley Franklin and a bunch of other people I didn't recognize who may or may not have been famous. Among the latter group was a fantastically drunk man named Chuck who interrupted my mobile phone conversation not to talk to me, but to take my phone and tell the person I was talking to how drunk he was. He also said something about how I looked like a ninja. The party had an open bar.

The fireworks were outstanding, as usual. A lot of people commented on how much they liked the swirly fireworks, whatever they're called. Immediately after the display was over, many people darted into the tent to grab whatever beer was left to take home. The land of the free! Forsaking the free beer (too cumbersome to carry home on my bike), I followed some freedom lovers to the Swissotel for drinks. The hotel actually valet parked my bicycle.

Travisty: Ian Webber, formerly lead of Atlanta's Tender Idols, played a remarkable show at Smith's Olde Bar last Friday to mark the release of his new CD, BlanketCoveredMorning. The man is a factory of great melodies, in a melancholy Neil Finn or Travis sort of way. I was singing or humming along to every song, despite never having heard them prior to that night. It's great music for driving around and moping.

I don't know how well it connected with the crowd though. There were a lot of Webber partisans there, but it being a Friday night, there were a lot of "party time in Buckhead" types. For example, I doubt that the drunk young couple wearing matching white cowboy hats was there for wistful melodies. They were dressed like honeymooners touring the Alamo.

Phony Matrimony: Last Saturday, I attended the wedding reception portion of a fake wedding event/party called Enchanted Summer 3. On Friday, the party group got together at a restaurant and picked a bride and groom at random from those present. Then, they all sort of pretended they were in town for a wedding. The party culminated with a fake ceremony early Friday evening (officiated by a fake priest named Father Mike) and a fake wedding reception held in the real Atlanta Brewing Company's offices.

It all came off as a happy costume frat party. But even though the theme of the party was "fake wedding," the costumes were a bit incoherent. Some of the women were dressed like they were at a wedding reception, while others dressed more like they were at a prom. One woman dressed like a hillbilly. The men were no more coherent. Some wore cheesy formal wear, while several people dressed up like military men. One guy wore a blue Civil War uniform and a hat with the Confederate flag. Apparently no one told him that blue was the color of the Union uniforms. Oh well.

On The Dot: Atlanta artist Andy Blanchard screened several of his brilliantly original short films in which he stars as Dot Matrix, a white Hazmat suit-wearing, interdimensionally traveling adventurer. Dot Matrix travels via a self-constructed Photon Bridge. He is often accompanied by squeaky-voiced Photon Pixies and a sexy foil named Petula (pronounced like petulant) played by Angela Lieben. Dot Matrix's adventures include strange battles against his shadow self, Spot Matrix, and a constantly bathing man named Soap Dude.

One of the many great moments was when Dot Matrix traveled via his Photon Bridge to make contact, in his words, with non-sentient life forms in a sacred space. It sounds like dreary science fiction until you note that the non-sentient life forms in question were talking lobsters and the sacred space was a Chinese restaurant on Cheshire Bridge Road. I smiled so much that my face hurts. Blanchard will screen the shorts again later this summer.

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