The Bikini Atoll 

Ralphing in Midtown and the millionth annual Dogwood festival

One of my friends has a theory about band names. The bigger the land mass, the lousier the band. Let me illustrate. Boston: big city, lousy band. Kansas: bigger than Boston (the city), lousier than Boston (the band). Asia: biggest continent and one of the worst bands ever. Chicago, Alabama, America, Europe ... the list could go on. But the point is clear. Avoid bands named after large geographic areas.

I can only think of two exceptions to the rule. The first is Japan, but they broke up 20 years ago, so you couldn't see them if you wanted to. The second is Myssouri, who fortunately are still together and headquartered right here in Atlanta. They played the Cotton Club Friday, participating in 99X's Next Level concert. The show featured a handful of local bands competing for a chance to play at Music Midtown.

Before Myssouri played, I saw the set by a band called Chain Poets. They sound like an American, frat party version of Queen. They had a talent for making drunk women in tight outfits dance with each other, which some people probably consider to be a superpower. Midway through their set, a drunk guy wearing a Nashville Pussy T-shirt approached me, pointed admiringly at a group of drunk dancing women, and asked me take a photograph of them, claiming that doing so would "make their night." I wasn't sure how taking a picture of the drunk women would have benefited the man or the women, so I politely declined.

A much better photo subject is Myssouri's striking lead singer Michael Bradley. His shaved head, penetrating eyes and thick red goatee make him look like a sexy, human version of a Dow Scrubbing Bubble. The most obvious band to compare Myssouri to is The Doors. Not because Bradley is planning on being found dead in a bathtub, but because Myssouri grooves a lot like The Doors' "Roadhouse Blues." My favorite song in their set was "The Floorless Jig" which featured a guitar eerily simulating harmony backing vocals. If you ever decide to melodramatically wander the American West and want an original soundtrack, call Myssouri.

Note to the Cotton Club's management: $3 for a soft drink is outrageous. Such prices are only appropriate at establishments featuring nude dancers, movies or roller coasters.

Golden Apples: Saturday was the birthday of Mississippi-born author and photographer, Eudora Welty, who died last summer at the age of 92. On Friday, I attended a birthday party for her hosted by longtime fan and Atlanta resident John Bayne. It wasn't his first Welty-themed gathering. One guest reminisced about a past Welty bash several years ago at the now-defunct Stein Club. The party was apparently such fun that it wooed several patrons who had never even heard of Welty.

Activities at this year's party included a group reading of Welty's classic short story, "Why I Live at the P.O.," one of American literature's most famous uses of an unreliable narrator (a device that readers of this column are no doubt familiar with). There was also a short trivia contest (name the book that won Welty a Pulitzer Prize; answer: The Optimist's Daughter).

Everyone in attendance received a Eudora Welty mask as a party favor. We held them up when we sang Bayne's "Eudora Welty Day" song (lyrics: Eudora Welty Day, Eudora Welty Day, Eudora Welty Day, Eudora Welty Day).

I wanna Ralph: Democracy Rising, a political organization founded by Ralph Nader, made a publicity and fund-raising stop last Friday night at the Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center. The marquee threatened an evening of terrible boredom by announcing "Ralph Nader, Consumer Advocate" as the headliner, but the event was actually quite fun. There were several musical performers, including Patti Smith and Headliner from Arrested Development (who, misleadingly named, was not the headliner).

I'd never seen Patti Smith in concert before and it was a thrill, despite her short set. She played a couple of my favorite songs and while she performed, some hippies in jester outfits did some "It's a mime -- no, wait, it's a seizure" dances like you see in all those documentaries about the '60s.

Nader's speech focused, not surprisingly, on commercial and corporate control of politics and culture and how he wants to change it. Even though he needs to tighten up his speech-writing a bit, Nader is a much better orator than either President Bush or Al Gore. Unfortunately, saying that someone is a better orator than Gore or Bush is kind of like praising a cookie by saying that it tastes better than tin foil or cardboard.

Dog dazed: Atlanta symbolically welcomed the arrival of spring last weekend with the millionth annual Atlanta Dogwood Festival in Piedmont Park. It's a chance to hear lots of live music, check out some interesting arts and crafts and evaluate Atlanta's latest fashion trends. I didn't see any unitards, even though an poll said they're very popular. This year's trendy dog appears to be the pug. Weimaraners are so 2000.

My favorite tent was the one giving out free Listerine Pocket Paks. I'm addicted to those things. The lamest tent was, I'm ashamed to say, Creative Loafing's. There were no people in it, only two newspaper boxes and some garbage. No "Jane Catoe Kissing Booth," no "Arm-Wrestle John Sugg," and no "Let Luke Boggs Call You Liberal." Maybe next year.



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