Louisville Bardstown Rd. Halloween Parade 2019
Let me explain firstly, this is not a complaint. It’s more of a rant. The difference being that rants are truthful observations. Complaints are when you’re letting off steam because you feel like you’ve been wronged somehow and are seeking justice. There’s no justice for what parades take from our souls and I have no skin in this game to feel wronged.
I try to stay away from public gatherings because at my age I’ve experienced them to every degree imaginable, and they seem to characterize more of what I have less patience for as I get older. Yes, I’m changing, but so are the factors that comprise “The Public.” And if you think I sound snobby, then you
probably are part of the problem. But my daughter and I went to this “festival” and parade because she should experience what these things represent, for good and bad. Even she had enough at a point and wanted to leave early. I’ve never liked parades, and fairs and public gatherings give me hives. They’re too much of everything that makes me roll my eyes. And as I get older, that’s more and more stuff.
There’s also a difference between the crowds when you talk about “the public.” What you experience at Disney World, for example, is different than what you get at, say, today’s Halloween parade my daughter and I attended. Disney World filters out 99% of the riff-raff through its pricing. It’s so expensive for an authentic Disney vacation that most people, being more than 50% of America, simply can’t afford it without some subsidy. I know people that have six-figure salaries that have to use time-share scams and University conferences as ways to go spend just a couple of days at Disney World. And you need probably a week to do it there right without having a nervous breakdown, which for a family of 4, easily would cost close to $10,000. So it’s not exactly caddy day at Bushwood country club. My freshman year I went to Rollins College in Winter Park Florida, just outside of Orlando. The number of times I went to Disney World: zero.
Juxtapose that with going to a free parade on a Saturday afternoon that’s held along a street that’s nothing but bars, tattoo and piercing parlors, head shops, shuttered commercial spaces that represent shattered dreams of the stupid variety(which I’ll discuss later), burrito counters, vape/CBD stores, cell phone stores, and little stores that have somehow stayed open defying all odds, like vinyl record stores, comic book stores, vintage high-end guitar shops, and nail and beauty salons. That street in Louisville is Bardstown Rd. It’s around the corner from methadone clinics and runs through the bluest area of a blue city, The Highlands. High-crime as well, which shouldn’t need to be said.
Bardstown Rd. is a place that many cities have, like little 5 points in Atlanta, and where the “counter-culture” hangs out. Lots of restaurants and nightlife. Except the counter culture doesn’t exist anymore. In the 1970s and 1980s and for a bit of the early 1990s, yes. But the internet and shifts in mainstream culture and music and the arts all changed forever. What was “alternative” became mainstream. And it hasn’t changed. The people that are being “different” and “themselves” are doing nothing more than copying what they see online, at the mall, at school, parades, and with the general public and the other mainstream places the public at large dwells. in the 70’s, having a tattoo, a body piercing, a mohawk, short hair if you were female or long hair if you were a male with unique facial hairstyles, colored hair, wore ironic, vintage, ill-fitting, donated clothing, and listened to bands no one else had even heard of, then you were counter-culture. That’s all mainstream in 2019, and it’s not ironic, and the music is pop music. I feel more eccentric going out in public here with no tattoos, dressed well, hair neat and myself groomed, than a man would with a bun in their hair and wearing a skirt.
Counter culture in 2019 is conservative. No tattoos. Pressed, collared shirts tucked in with belts, wearing styles that buck trends and have been worn since the 1950s and 1960s with hairstyles to match the gender. Cuffed pants and shoes with shoestrings. And knowing exactly what gender we are and proud of it, and even try to accentuate the fact via taking care of our bodies and maintaining a reasonable amount of self-esteem. Self-esteem has been thrown out the window in 2019, proven by looking in any direction when attending a parade as we went to today. In every direction were people that were morbidly obese, with clothing that was 10 times too small, showing off the inner-tube-like physiques struggling to stay within the overworked fibers of their t-shirts, tank-tops, jeggings and spandex pants, pajama bottoms, and whatever they found on the floor when they rolled off the couch. Self-esteem seems to the controlling factor of why we see what we do today versus what we saw a few decades ago. Americans used to have some. No more.
What white skin that was unfortunately visible to the naked eye was graffitied with a landscape of colors, but no telling what they comprised. Names of common-law spouses, maybe? Some motorcycle badge perhaps? Who knows, and who wants to look at it long enough to try and find out? No one. I don’t know what tattoos cost these days, but I imagine they aren’t cheap, which makes one wonder.
I don’t have anything against tattoos per-se. I know plenty of people with them, and I know why, when and where they got them. Getting a butterfly on your ankle in 1987 when you were following the Grateful Dead is a lot different than a massive skull, snakehead and knife blazoned across your back above a tramp stamp and below a tribal around your neck in 2017 because you saw it on “Dawg the Bounty Hunter.” It’s become nothing more than monkey-see, monkey do. I’ve hired designers with tattoo sleeves and on their necks and heads and God knows where else. I can appreciate that people who love art and design see it as an extension of their own love of art. But beyond that, you’re losing me. Men that get them to look tough, women that get them to look sexy….no. It doesn’t happen that way.
So back to the Halloween gala today. My daughter and I waited patiently for nearly an hour in a spot I chose so we could see the parade well, maybe get some candy that was tossed and have a good time. “The public” had a different idea in store.
What we experienced sitting there with the world passing by around us was: people so overweight they have been placed on motorized scooters to haul their blubberbutts around, playing bumper cars with people and obstacles in a heavily crowded parade route. Many of these whales were smoking cigarettes, just to punish their bodies and those unfortunate enough to come into proximity of them further. And then the people sitting on the curbs smoking, with children lining up all around them to watch the parade. It’s hard for me to believe anyone still smokes in 2019, but to do it smack-dab in the middle of a family crowd is beyond inconsiderate. And most of these people were eating some type of fried street food they found, and leaving their litter on the curbs for people to step in and swerve around when ther were trash cans all over the place. I hate litter and people who litter blow my little mind.
People would constantly mosey up and stand right directly in front of me and my daughter, sitting in her stroller, taking up 1-1/2 feet horizontally and maybe 3 feet vertically, like we weren’t even there. We grabbed a choice spot for viewing and grabbing candy, which my daughter wasn’t aggressive enough among the other children to get the little treats being tossed out. I wasn’t sure to be glad or worried about that fact, but in the end, I think it’s best she doesn’t try to fight strangers for road candy. I will give her better, and her hesitancy to engage in battle for sugar is probably a demonstration of manners, restraint and consideration, which I try to instill.
So I mentioned Bardstown Road is a street lined with pubs and bars and places people go to imbibe every hour of the day each day of the week. It’s our own little Bourbon Street. And not surprisingly, it’s where you can find the homeless, the shady, the unwashed, the barflies and the down and out. I saw several children on their own out along the parade route, while daddy was back in the pub knocking back a few while little princess was standing alone out in the street with her plastic grocery bag waiting for candy to be thrown her way. Warmed my heart. Every now and then they’d stagger out and make sure everything was OK and stumble back up to the bar. The vision of someone walking by, scooping up the child and moving on back to their van with their prize and driving off forever playing over and over in my mind. The children’s’ mothers somewhere nearby with their noses in their mobile phones in another world.
Bardstown Road is a street where there is an endless number of storefronts that house the dreams of people who have an idea, some savings to start it up, but no business sense. And a year later, it’s out of business for the next dreamer/tenant to move on in. Boutique chocolate cafes. Dog treat stores. Stores that cater to cat owners. Small bookstores. Indian vegan street food. If you can dream it, it’s been tried and failed on Bardstown Road. I think every city has a street or area like this. It’s where liberals congregate to throw their savings away. Cafes, bookstores, record shops, concepts that soothe the liberal mind and sound great at the book club and on NPR but make no sense on paper and are an accountant’s nightmare.
It was often hard to tell who was dressed for Halloween and who was just there for the parade.