So, just like all self-respecting sports, cheerleading needs competitions. Last weekend, the Georgia World Congress Center was the site of the Cheersport National Cheerleading and Dance Championships. The 15,000 or so competitors (that's not a typo) were not necessarily cheerleading squads associated with particular schools or sports teams. Rather, all the ones I saw were teams of girls and young women who cheer for no reason other than to cheer. The teams have names like the High-Flying All-Stars, the Cheer Factory All-Stars, and my trademark-infringing favorite: Cheers. The teams get on stage and cheer at nothing while an audience cheers at them for doing so. The teams that cheer best are awarded trophies, the receipt of which inevitably causes more cheering.
To accommodate 15,000 people on hundreds of teams, there were several dozen divisions and categories, many with evocative names like Pee-Wee Large Intermediate and Open Coed Partner Stunt. Each team's routine consisted of running, somersaulting, jumping and lifting each other up, accompanied by medleys of popular, upbeat songs.
I watched lots of cheerleading and I have lots of spirit, yes I do, but to be honest, I have no idea what division or age group I was watching at any given time. By wearing roughly identical uniforms and obscuring their facial features under Aguilerian amounts of makeup, it was hard to tell anyone apart. To be frank (and Andisheh), I have to say that, as enjoyable as it all was, calling cheerleading a sport is ridiculous. Cheerleading is entertainment that just happens to be physically demanding. If cheerleading is a sport, then so is refereeing -- hell, so is doing the wave, and yelling, "Cold beer!" If cheerleading is a sport, so is applauding cheerleaders. I guess that makes me an athlete. Anyone for some Open Coed Partner Stunt clapping?
Moshthletes: New York/Michigan/Florida rocker (depends on which biography you read) Andrew W.K. brought his cheerful pop speed-metal show to a packed Masquerade Saturday night. W.K.'s musical obsession is partying. His big hit is the anthem "Party Hard," but his CD I Get Wet boasts several other equally anthemic, equally pro-party tracks such as "It's Time to Party," and "Party 'Til You Puke." As a result, he and his band appeal strongly to 15-24 white males who love to mosh, crowd surf and, well, party.
W.K. relates to his audience through more than riffs and lyrical content (or lack thereof). He's a truly gracious performer who allows fans to not only videotape his performances, but also to join him onstage. There were dozens of fans onstage during the entire show. Some took control of the band's mics. Others just danced and enjoyed themselves. During the first couple of songs, W.K. sang while carrying on his back an audience member in a cow costume. Between songs, he would thank the audience profusely -- shaking hands, hugging, and even putting "Hi, I'm Andrew W.K. Please leave a message," on the voice mailbox of a fan who handed him his cell phone. After the concert, he stayed at the club to karaoke with whomever wanted to join him. Say what you will about his music, this guy treats his fans as though he's acutely aware that without them he wouldn't be successful.
Perhaps inspired by the example set by W.K., there was a very thoughtful man on the street outside the club offering to watch people's cars for mere pennies. What a guy! Note to the city of Atlanta: Somebody has stolen the manhole lid next to Masquerade and has spray painted "Fuck The Masquerade" next to the enormous hole where the lid should be. C'mon, Shirley, make us proud.
Bridethletes: My trip to the Perfect Wedding Guide Bridal Show at the JW Marriott at Lenox was a huge disappointment. Perhaps because I was alone, perhaps because I was dressed shabbily, or perhaps because I'm not actually getting married, hardly any of the vendors pushing their bridal wares paid attention to me. I did get to try some delicious wedding cake (Cakes By Debbie) and listen to nice harp music (which my recently married friend tells me they have at every bridal show). Only the woman at the Formal America table talked to me: she even gave me a coupon for $60 off my father's tuxedo if I rent an additional eight tuxes. I have until Feb. 28 to book the date, ladies.
Artthletes!: Eyedrum was thumping with wholesome, arty goodness on Saturday night, hosting two, count 'em, TWO new exhibits. Connected to Eyedrum in the newly opened Dos Pestañeos Studios (that's Spanish for two, count 'em, TWO pestaneos) was an exhibit of large silhouettes of animals by Andrew Ross. I don't know what amount is a fair price for wood silhouettes of a herd of buffalo that you can prop up in your living room, but $500 seems reasonable. The piece I really want though is the nearly life-sized silhouette Ross made of two elks mating. Elk porn is hot.
Over in Eyedrum's main space, there was a collection of bizarre sound-making devices called L'Objet Sonore. Apparently, that's French for "Dos Pestañeos." Anyway, some of the installation's highlights included amplified walnuts, a slide guitar hooked to televisions, and a metallic gizmo that looked like a jungle gym that people could kick, beat on and ride for musical effect. It was playful the way more art should be, although when the laughing blond women utilized the gizmo's see-saw function, it gave me haunting flashbacks of my last visit to Bar in Buckhead.
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