Things we weren’t particularly excited about: July edition

This blog strives to highlight the better half of our natures. But sometimes, a curmudgeonly blog takeover happens. Chalk it up to the long slog of July heat, the quagmire of this interminable 31-day month, the depressing messages coming from every news outlet, the deflating realization of how much four new tires cost.

July no doubt has its highlights. . . but they were a bit meh this year.

Independence Day

Everyone loves fireworks (except dogs). If you happen to be in the lovely seaside retreat of Myrtle Beach, SC, people love fireworks so much that law enforcement completely gives up on their no-firework ordinances every 4th of July and every square foot of beachfront, from the North Carolina border down to somewhere near Charleston, looks like this.
Flocking to a professional show (we prefer going north to Cherry Grove) is fine and good—and your chances of losing a digit or an eye decrease exponentially—but then trying to get back out requires a solid hour of patience. Last year, the show malfunctioned and blew a hole in the pier, injuring a worker badly enough that the appearance of an ambulance stood in for the grand finale. This year, they managed only to explode things in the sky, and while the lapping waves were nice, a rousing Sousa march would have really set the mood.

Attack of the Killer Tomato Festival

We’ve been loyal partisans of this—perhaps Atlanta’s most creative and accessible food event—since its inception six years ago. Adding to its appeal is the fact that all the profits benefit Georgia Organics, and the top chefs from the city and the Southeast give up their normal Sunday routine to cook tomato-inspired treats for the masses. Plus we always enjoyed the Spazmatics. But after five straight years of attendance—all of which ended with near complete heat-wilt (if only tomato season were October!)—we skipped this year. In truth, we just needed a break. We’ll be back next year for sure, because it’s one of our favorites.

The Leftovers on HBO

We had high hopes for this new series about the members of a small, upstate New York town dealing with the inexplicable disappearance of hundreds of community members and loved ones one fateful night. I mean, this was HBO, and while the Hollywood studios were running out the usual summertime superhero and comic book drivel, surely we could count on HBO to raise the entertainment bar. You know, for the discerning viewer. 

It turns out, watching The Leftovers is about as entertaining as slowly twisting a screw through your arm. Then doing it again for one hour the following week. It’s dour, sour, nihilistic, depressing, despondent, violent, hopeless, and purposelessly vague--and not in the good way. The story (after three episodes, at least, which is our more-than-fair measuring stick) never gets any more interesting that the premise. The dialogue vacillates between bombastically unrealistic and flatly monotonous, violence seems hollowly gratuitous rather than earned or necessary, the cynicism darkens your heart and bruises your soul and, well, it doesn't hold our attention for 55 minutes. So, three episodes in, we’re out. More time for backyard horseshoes, furminating the cats, and tending the gardens (both real and virtual). 

At least you still have Last Week with John Oliver to buoy your Sunday night ratings, HBO. By the way, could it really be possible the U.S. has more imprisoned citizens than China?

 

The Lady Gaga VIP Experience at Milwaukee Summerfest

Don’t get us wrong—the Gaga was phenomenal. The VIP tickets, which purportedly offered exclusive access to front-of-the-stage standing room, in fact allowed this exclusive access for about 82 seconds, after which a crush of humanity from the rows behind swelled forward and pressed all in its path mere inches from Gaga’s boots (fortunately she changes her footwear dozens of times, so that kept things interesting). We were effectively held hostage by the wild crowd of Little Monsters, unable to either obtain refreshments nor use the facilities, though Jaci was able to snap these keepers, one of which Ms. Germanotta herself used on her Facebook page. (you can guess which one).

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B*ATL

The 150th anniversary of the Battle of Atlanta—which essentially took place in our back yard—seemed a momentous enough occasion, and the B*ATL folks do a great job putting together a weekend of events, tours, story tellings, reenactments, soirees, and the like. We took the walking tour through our East Atlanta Village neighborhood several years ago, and it was really interesting, though, again, in 95-degree July heat, not the most comfortable experience (and yes, we did think of all those poor soldiers marching and fighting and getting shot and not eating in wool uniforms…we are soft, soft people here in 2014). We saw a cadre of tour-goers crowded around the monument of General McPherson—the highest ranking Yankee to be killed in the otherwise pitiful Rebel effort—at the end of our street, and mostly needed them to get out of the way so we could get to Target.

Bastille Day

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If we were in France, or possibly could even speak any French beyond bonjour, this would seem like a great excuse for a mid-July party. I mean, revolution, guillotines, bistro fare, wine and cheese and croissants, the storming of a prison, foment in the streets...what more can you ask for? But somehow an obscure Mexican battle has won more American mindshare than the kicking off of the French revolution. We don't quite understand it, but comme ci comme ça. 

 

In retrospect, July, it’s not really you, it’s us. . . it seems extreme heat + crush of humanity just aren’t our bag. So we’ll try harder with your sister month, August. But there is something about you to blame, July. . . 

Oh, and stay tuned for more 90s retrospectives in the coming months. Merci. 

Patrick Kelly