Tribulation Trail is a haunted house show performed in the woods outside the church. Only, instead of your typical ghost/zombie/guy-in-hockey-mask-with-chainsaw stuff, Tribulation Trail is the church's attempt to "realistically" portray the "end time" as it's presented in Revelation (aka that really scary chapter at the end of the Bible).
Wow, I'm only two paragraphs in and I've already got four sets of sarcastic quotation marks!
I went to Tribulation Trail last Friday evening, toughing out the two-and-a-half hour wait with the help of Books on Tape and a live performance by the Christian rock band Ordinary Man, a group whose songs were strikingly reminiscent of the songs in a recent episode of "South Park" in which Cartman starts a Christian rock band that becomes famous by writing romantic love songs that replace words like "baby" and "darling" with "Jesus." (Sample "South Park" lyric: "I just wanna feel you deep inside me, Jesus.")
The first stop on the trail was a visit with a bearded Apostle John. He ominously paced back and forth and explained that what we were about to witness was the end of the world. He was good, but I thought his repeated, name-droppy references about being pals with Jesus was a little tacky.
I'm not Bible-savvy enough to judge how faithful Tribulation Trail is to the spirit of Revelation, so I won't even bother. What I did see very clearly, though, amid the Revelation imagery and porno-quality acting was a laundry list of conservative pet peeves and fears. For example, the "false hope" (i.e., the devil) who emerges to save the world from the chaos of Armageddon wears an Italian-cut, double-breasted sports coat and stands by a United Nations flag. As evil leader of the One World Government, he demands that people give up their guns and their religion in exchange for basic provisions.
Perhaps worst of all (and this is not a joke), he has replaced all of the world's currencies with the Euro!
In a scene titled "Metroplex," the Apocalypse was announced, appropriately enough, with a PowerPoint montage charting the country's moral and cultural decay. From the oh-so-happy days of yore, depicted via images of the "Andy Griffith Show," "Father Knows Best" and, uh, "Happy Days," we've descended into a literal hellhole, populated by "Will & Grace," "Sex and the City," Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, Marilyn Manson, the Osbournes, Marilyn Manson, Christina Aguilera, Marilyn Manson, Madonna and Britney kissing, and Marilyn Manson. The authors of the slide show clearly prefer their TV shows innocuous, their extramarital affairs hidden, and their homosexuals closeted.
And I'm not exaggerating about Marilyn Manson, either. He was in there more than anyone. When will Christians realize that the only reason he even has a career is because they keep bringing him up?
The show's climax is a scene called "Satan's Final Rebellion." Introduced with Guns 'n Roses' "Welcome to the Jungle," it ends with Jesus pushing Satan into a firey pit of doom, which, considering he lives in hell most of the time, probably didn't upset him all that much.
Race-baiting: On Saturday afternoon, while real NASCAR fans were down in Hampton watching the race, I went to Centennial Olympic Park to watch Race Town Atlanta, a NASCAR-themed promo event during which fans and a good percentage of downtown's homeless population could ogle cars and rock out to bands like Styx!
It was definitely the dud event of the weekend, capturing none of the wholesome, American, everyman macho-maleness that makes NASCAR so popular. After all, is there a single man among us who can't relate to the spectacle of other men driving in circles for hundreds of miles without once stopping to ask for directions? Nope, Race Atlanta was little more than a giant marketing scam, in which patrons receive cheap plastic crap for "free" in exchange for their names, phone numbers and addresses. Translation: In exchange for this Dodge-Ford-Home Depot frisbee, we're going to bombard you with junk mail for the rest of your life. It was fun.
Coke vs. speed: A Halloween weekend wouldn't be complete without some costumes. I didn't wear one myself, but instead spent my late Saturday night watching rock bands play dress up at the Earl for a Ramones vs. Fleetwood Mac rock show.
Performing Fleetwood Mac's Rumours in its entirety was a band called Phosphorescent. They lacked Mac's rhythmic and vocal chops. Performing an all-Ramones set was a band in zombie makeup and wigs called the Remains. The Remains were much more convincing than Phosphorescent. They played fast and tough and Joey Remain spoke with a comic New Yawk accent. According to some resident Ramonophiles in attendance, the main flaw in their pastiche was the pausing between songs. The Ramones never paused.
Spray paint wishes and aerosol dreams: On Saturday night, I stopped by Yo Yo Boutique for the Urban Medium art show. Urban Medium's principals, Derek Fridman and Heather Alexander, are recent transplants from L.A. They're also among the country's best-known culture-jamming artists. Their most famous work is the Chetrooper, featuring an image that merges the famous Che Guevara icon with his face replaced by a Star Wars storm trooper.
Chetrooper stickers are everywhere. I've even got one half-stuck to my dining room table! The American cult of Che annoys and disturbs me. Just because Che was handsome, people conveniently forget that he was a violent opponent of freedom as we enjoy it. When I asked Fridman about it, he hinted at similar feelings. Pretty simply, Chetrooper mocks the cult of Che by subverting the cult's primary icon with a straight pop culture image. I like that. It also looks really cool.
For a longer look at Tribulation Trail and other random nonsense, check out Andisheh's website, www.andy2000.org.
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