Sunday, October 31, 2010

Dead Doings

Tonight was Richmond's 5th Annual Halloween parade, and like the last two, yours truly was a part of the march through Oregon Hill. The theme was "A Funeral March for the Dead" but the mood was anything funereal.

It always starts in Monroe Park where participants, costumed and otherwise (I felt like my Parisian Leo tights were enough), choose masks, puppets, signs and other effects to carry. After making the mistake of choosing something too heavy the first year, I now opt for a more manageable sign. But I carry it really well, if I do say so myself.

A stranger immediately greeted me and after bit of chatting, I learned that it was his first parade, so I answered his questions about the parade process. Organizer Lily saw me and came over, saying, "Karen, I love you!' the best possible greeting I could have hoped for.

This year's sign said, "We fight for the people and we die anyway" which I learned made me "Iraqi girl" when an organizer referred to me that way to the people following me. I was right behind the two people each wearing the giant skull heads that went down past their shoulders and in front of an enormous puppet that was carried aloft by three people.

I was joined by two musician friends, one playing accordion and the other a sort of panpipe, so I had musical accompaniment to hoist my sign to. Let me tell you, after moving that sign up and down rhythmically to the music for an hour, I was more than ready to lose it.

But the parading is so much fun and the crowds so enthusiastic that the time passes quickly. Periodically we'd be showered with bubbles and occasionally the wind would kick up, challenging my ability to keep my sign upright (it was like a sail going down in the wind), bur mostly we just smiled and had our pictures taken by onlookers. And they cheered a lot for us, but then, almost all of them had a drink in hand.

And it wasn't just the crowds who were snapping pictures and shooting video. A guy dressed as Prince, complete with toy guitar, and walking near me, shot photos of more than one colorful- looking O-Hill resident as we passed by.

I almost ran into him when he stopped short to shoot a neighbor in a mu-mu with a cigarette dangling from her lips and a can of Schlitz in her hand; when she smiled for the camera, she revealed as many missing teeth as those present. Say cheese.

When we reached the endpoint, we dropped our parade paraphernalia to listen to the music and mingle with other parade walkers for a bit. You never know who's in the parade behind you until the end of it all. And that's when everybody checks with everybody else to see who's going where next.

I'd already decided that my next stop would be the Night of the Living Dead bands show at Strange Matter. Just this afternoon, I'd run into a friend in Carytown who was also planning to go and a musician friend was one of the performers in Led Zepplica. No way I could pass this up.

The place was a zoo by the time I walked back from Oregon Hill, with a core group of non-stop fist-pumpers and even moshing up front. I'm not positive who was performing, although it may well have been the Misfits cover band. Or maybe Bad Religion.

In any case, when their ear-bleedingly loud set ended and the thrashing stopped, I asked a nearby fan if I'd missed Led Zepplica and was told I had. Sad face. I'd missed my opportunity to hear my beautiful music-loving friend do his best classic rock imitation and who knows when an opportunity like that will present itself again?

When he'd first told me about it, he'd presented it as " a show you'd probably rather skip." As you might guess, he's a new friend and doesn't know me very well yet.

But he'll learn. I don't skip many shows when someone I know is playing. There's no telling what I might see or hear that would enable me to give him endless crap about.

And isn't that the stuff friendships are made of?


  1. Awww! Thank you for coming though! We went on earlier than I expected because the first two bands played very short sets. It was a fun show, and the crowd, which we thought wouldn't like us (the guy running the show thought so too) really DID like us, and sang along, and made us feel like we really were Led Zep...i think everyone wanted to believe all the bands were real, and it worked. We're supposed to play sometime in November, that's the rumor, maybe at the Camel--that's also the rumor. Thank you again for trying to come!

  2. I won't miss my second chance to see you guys, you can be sure!

  3. great blog karen, enjoyed meeting you at the sausage party!


  4. Mutual, I'm sure.

    I bow at the feet of someone who was able to "sense" that I was the icgoao blogger.

    Hope to run into you again soon!