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Extravagasm VI ‘Return to Eden’

OCT. 22, 2007

As much as we hate to admit it, there is a certain truth in the phrase, “Turn ’em over and they all look alike.” While there are countless variations in the size, shape, color, and coiffure of the human anatomy, the basic plumbing is pretty much all the same – has been for several thousand years, minimum. Same ‘ol, same ‘ol. It’s amazing we get worked up about one another in the first place. Imagine if you lived for hundreds of years … like Noah, who apparently clocked in somewhere between 500 and 1,000. After a couple hundred years of connubial bliss, it’s very likely that Noah’s wife just held up her hand and muttered, “seen it” every time he whipped out his baby-maker. Makes you wonder if Noah collected all those animals because of a sign from God or just because after all those years he wanted to try something new. Really, Noah’s ark probably makes a lot of sense to the average 500-year-old – sort of a freaky interspecies Carnival Cruise ship with Noah walking the Lido deck wearing a Hawaiian shirt and carrying a tranquilizer gun and a jar of bacon grease. The “male and female of each species” thing should come as no surprise either. It’s a safe bet that after five or six centuries, you’d be exploring bisexuality too. Maybe the idea of bestiality on such a huge scale seems a little over the top. Some might even call it an abomination, but you have to admit that engaging in a ménage à trois with a pair of full-grown grizzlies is one sure way of “keeping it fresh,” plus it gives the hamsters a chance to stretch their legs and unwind. Maybe Noah was onto something other than dry land. Most experts say that the key to having a fulfilling sex life is to try new things – keep it interesting. Problem is, not everybody is easily amused. In fact, in a world of ever increasing sensory overload, getting a rise out of the average person is getting harder and harder. It’s not enough to just buy some colored underwear or shave your nethers into a landing strip. These days you need an encyclopedic knowledge of the Kama Sutra, the body of a gymnast, and a briefcase full of silicone power tools if you want to compete with the freakshow of the internet. Currently, meat-space holds the edge, but only tenuously. Soon enough computers will cough up something warm and squishy and the human population will decline like the Barton Springs Salamander. Until then you need to keep on your toes – or someone else’s – and keep it interesting. If you’re running out of ideas, check out the sixth annual Extravagasm ball this Friday. The theme of this year’s ball is “Return to Eden” and features the Kitty Kitty Bang Bang Burlesque troupe, pole performer and arialist Ms. Mercy Killings, belly dancers, fetish sideshows, a costume contest, and the usual assortment of kink and perversion presided over by Mistress of Ceremonies Lady Lynn. Unlike previous Extravagasms, this year’s ball is off Sixth Street – as in far North Austin – but the venue is a roomy, 9000-square-foot swingers club called Allure. Maybe if you go to the ball you’ll get some, and that’s the point, isn’t it?

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Austin Haunted Forest

OCT. 16, 2007

Haunted Houses are like assholes. Everybody has one and most of them are pretty scary. If you’ve ever been in one, you know it involves a lot of moaning and screaming and blood, and very likely you’ll want to get out just as soon as you go in. You might even wonder why you wanted to go in at all. If you haven’t been in one, you’re probably at least a little bit intrigued by the idea, but why? Life is scary enough, why would you want to subject yourself to additional terror? And pay for it? Just a quick scan of evening news stories reveals some of the most depraved shit imaginable: A man sexually assaults and hangs a 6-year-old girl in her garage; a college girl is killed and dismembered by her boyfriend; a mother puts her three daughters in a bathtub and sets them on fire – and those are just here in Texas. There’s plenty of grisly shit that goes on every day in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Myanmar, and Darfur. When it comes to pain and suffering, the human race seems to take an if-we-can-conceive-it-we-can-achieve-it approach. Sure, getting mauled by a bear or eaten by a shark sounds really horrifying, but those are mercy killings compared to the average torture session during the Spanish Inquisition. We may like to think we’ve evolved somewhat in the last 500 years, but there’s no conclusive proof. Having flesh torn from your body with hot pincers may indeed be more painful and terrifying than being waterboarded or having electrodes attached to your testicles, but we’ll never know for certain. For most people such scenarios remain completely hypothetical, and maybe that’s the point. If the only true terror in your life comes from some schmaltzy holiday tradition like a haunted house, you’ve got it pretty good – maybe too good. Maybe your body occasionally needs that hair-raising, heart-pounding adrenaline rush of terror, if only to counterbalance the increasing torpor of modern existence. If your greatest fear in life is something like public speaking, leaving your fly open, or getting a pimple on your forehead, you’re probably underterrorized. Fortunately, here in America you can remedy this problem without having to drive around with a cougar in your back seat or volunteer with Oxfam in Mogadishu. How about the sheer terror of being in a dark room and having your hand plunged into a bowl of peeled grapes or spaghetti? Or maybe having something pop out at you unexpectedly even though you were pretty much expecting something to pop out at you unexpectedly? With enough planning and financing, opportunities for terror abound – opportunities like the Austin Haunted Forest, a quarter mile of “twisted performance art, wicked art installations, and totally freak the bejesus out of your soul.” In addition to their homemade haunts, this year the AHF features the Life Size Mousetrap, a “16 piece, 50,000 pound interactive kinetic sculpture set atop a 6,500 square foot game board complete with a Vaudevillian carnival show, musical score, and can-can-dancers” imported all the way from San Francisco, one of the scariest places in the world. What kind of sick freak would build such a monstrosity? It’s too frightening to even consider.

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Texas Burlesque Festival

OCT. 8, 2007

If you really want to look at naked people, they’re all over the place. No more so than on the Internet. If you don’t believe it, try typing the word “bazookas” into Google’s image search. The result is a cross between a carnival freak show and a chiropractor’s wet dream. Nobody in your office probably remembers it, but there was a time when looking at naked people at work involved drilling a peephole into a restroom wall. You can still make that kind of thing happen, but unless you’re willing to wait quietly in the janitor’s closet for an inadvertent money shot, you’ll probably want to take advantage of digital technology – if only to install a web cam in the peephole. But really, why go to all the trouble? You don’t have to work nearly that hard. There are literally millions of pictures of spectacularly endowed, relentlessly turgid, beautifully air-brushed naked people on the Internet and you barely need to lift a finger to get at them. It’s every schoolkid’s fantasy come true – like finding a whole Dumpster full of nudie mags. Of course the down side of the whole deal is the inevitable real-world letdown of finding out that most real people don’t have rock hard, toned physiques, glistening, hairless nether regions, double D breasts, or 10-inch peckers. In fact, most naked bodies fall well short of the Internet standard, even on the Internet. You don’t have to drive out to Hippie Hollow to see cellulite, saddlebags, leathery skin, faded tattoos, or wild, unkempt tangles of pubes. There are plenty of sites devoted solely to amateur exhibitionists who apparently don’t have access to a soft-focus lens or acne medicine. Gone are the days of crouching in the bushes beneath the neighborhood MILF’s bedroom window every night hoping she’ll lotion the razor burns on her privates. Thanks to the internet you can tell her how to shave and where to apply the lotion, as long as you have a working credit card and a box of tissues within reach. Not surprisingly, with the increase in readily available porn on the Internet has come a corresponding interest in and acceptance of porn in real life. More people than ever are taking control of their sexuality and trying to actually live out the crazy donkey/goat/monkey/gerbil/midget/Vaseline/rope swing/jackhammer/gimp mask/gorilla suit fantasies they see online. It could be society is paving a landing strip for the four horsemen of the apocalypse or it could be that it’s merely pulling a big bug of Victorian repression out of its ass. Either way the end result is more skin for everyone – at least until it’s burned off in the lake of fire. Until then, expect things to get a whole lot freakier – sort of like this weekend when local burlesque troupes Kitty Kitty Bang Bang and Burlesque for Peace present the Texas Burlesque Festival. Over 50 performers and nine troupes from Texas and beyond will be baring their wares on Friday and Saturday night at the Parish and Antone’s respectively. If you like to unwind with a little bump and grind, this is definitely your festival. In between performances will be seminars on how to burlesque for success: makeup, hair, choreography, costuming, and chutzpah. Who knew showing off your bazookas involves so much smoke … and mirrors? Don’t worry, somewhere underneath it all is some live, naked flesh worth your money.

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TFN’s 12th Anniversary Celebration

OCT. 2, 2007

Texas is a really big state, especially in the minds of its citizens, whose heads, for the most part, are large enough to comfortably accommodate its immense geography. Nowhere else in America will you find a citizenry so convinced of their home state’s superiority, even and especially in the absence of any substantiation. Outside of Texas there are those who find this hubris entertaining (pride inevitably precedes the type of ass-crack-revealing fall that makes the finals on America’s Funniest Home Videos), but more commonly, unTexans just find it obnoxious. Sure, it might seem like Texans’ heads are big enough to enjoy a certain amount of open-mindedness, but that doesn’t necessarily follow. You cannot have an open mind if it’s packed full of bullshit, and to fill up a space as big as Texas, you have to start packing at a young age. Fortunately, the Texas legislature is up to the task. Back in May they voted 124-5 to put the words “one state under God” into the Texas pledge, presumably to let the ’tards in the other 49 know whose side God is really on. Apparently the “one nation under God” in the national pledge (the one that immediately precedes the Texas Pledge) doesn’t provide the amount of God coverage Texas needs. Only three other states have even adopted an additional pledge: Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. That puts Texas in very select company – what some might even refer to as America’s brain belt – although to give ‘Bama credit, their pledge doesn’t double dip on the deity. Think about it. Texas is currently holding down a spot usually reserved for Arkansas or Oklahoma. Now there’s something to brag about. Admittedly, bashing the Texas lege for idiotic behavior is cruel sport – sort of like making fun of a first grader with a rat tail haircut: You know he wasn’t born with it, but it wasn’t entirely his choice either. Somewhere along the line someone gave him the idea that a rat tail was a perfectly acceptable hairstyle. What’s done is done. We can’t jump into a time machine and fly back to the Eighties or for that matter the Alamo. We have to fix things here in the present. Rat tails can be remedied by a sharp pair of scissors, but backward-assed legislation can only be remedied by sharp minds. One way to ensure Texas minds don’t get any duller is to support organizations like the Texas Freedom Network, a nonpartisan, grassroots organization formed to counter radical fundamentalist legislation sponsored by the religious right. This Saturday they are having their annual fundraiser at La Zona Rosa. This year’s celebration features a live auction, food from local caterers, and music by folk favorite Ruthie Foster and Austin celebrity cover band, Skyrocket. Tickets aren’t cheap, but ignorance is even more expensive.

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WFTDA Championship

SEPT. 22, 2007

If you’re into helmet sports, this weekend is shaping up to be a humdinger. Not only are the wacky Longhorns testing their mettle against an actual conference opponent, there are big doings down at the Austin Convention Center, as well. You probably didn’t know it, but here in Merkuh we have something known as the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association, and they’re having their championships at the Convention Center this weekend. That’s “Derby” as in “Roller,” which, in the modern/vintage version at least, is a sort of WWF tag-team match on roller skates. The WFTDA (pronounced, one would assume, “woof-duh”) is composed of 38 Roller Derby leagues representing nearly every state in the nation. Damn. That’s a lot of pissed off Sonic carhops. You’d be mad, too, if you had to wait on an endless stream of Suburban-driving soccer moms, vodka-toting teenagers, ass-slapping rednecks, and outright pervs for a couple of bucks an hour and a pocketful of pennies. Roller-skating around a drive-in might look like fun on American Graffiti or Happy Days, but after you’ve rolled through a few patches of chili-dog/cherry-limeade upchuck and bussed a parking lot’s worth of ketchup-smeared window trays, getting clotheslined by an Amazon in fetish wear in front of a few thousand drunk crackers seems like a dream come true. Sure, you could channel your rage into other activities like garnishing cheeseburgers with lung nuggets and pubic hairs, but that’s so McDonald’s. Besides, if the Lord blesses you with a talent, you sort of have an obligation to use it. Where would we be if people like William Hung, Kevin Federline, and Paris Hilton chose to ignore their god-given abilities? Exactly, so if a girl takes the time to learn how to do amazing things on roller skates, she should have the opportunity to utilize those skills in something other than a porno movie starring Dirk Diggler. Thanks to the resurgence of trailer-trash camp, Roller Derby and the WFTDA are alive and well, and this weekend Austin is ground zero. Teams from far-flung locales like Seattle; Chicago; Kansas City, Mo.; Detroit; Tucson, Ariz.; Raleigh, N.C.; and New York City (do they even have Sonics in New York City?) will be going at it on the Convention Center’s flat track to decide this year’s champion. You should probably check it out, but before you go, you might want to put on some temporary tats and a pair of Dickies. It probably wouldn’t hurt to get some steel-toed work boots and maybe one of those wallets with a big-ass chain. After all, dressing up like you’re working class is a lot more fun than actually being working class, and Roller Derby fans in Austin like to kick it blue collar. Even though Roller Derby is technically a sport, Roller Derby fans aren’t especially sportive. You’re more likely to see beer guts and plumbers cracks than ripped abs and rock-hard calves. They also prefer punk rock over jock jams and tend to take a lot of cigarette breaks. You get the sense that ultimately they’re just there to watch chicks in fishnet and helmets duke it out on roller skates. Rest assured the Derby girls will give them what they paid for.

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Ink Fest Tattoo & Piercing Convention

SEPT. 18, 2007

After three full days of slogging through the dirt, sweat, noise, and smell of Austin City Limits, you’re probably experiencing a touch of “acute anxiety” just like Meg White. You might feel extremely anxious about going outside again. In fact, you might just want to stay in the shower all day scrubbing yourself vigorously with a loofah sponge – not just because you spent last weekend lathered in other people’s sweat, but because you need to remove the remaining dead sunburned skin so it doesn’t look like you’re wearing a bikini even when you’re not. When you take your top off you should get credit for it, and not just from the people who are close enough to tuck dollars into your G-string. Besides, if you wanted a permanent design you would have gotten a tattoo, right? Maybe one of those cool armband tats that look like the headgear Jesus sported on his power walk up to Calvary. Or, you could go with the sure-to-please “tramp stamp,” which is like a St. Louis arch over your ass crack, a visually alluring gateway to the dirty South. You don’t want to cheap it on the tramp stamp. It should be something ornate and elaborate – something that shows potential lovers that you’re not opposed to spending a considerable amount of time on your stomach enduring pain. Hawt. Most of all, a tattoo should say something about you. Well, actually all tattoos do that in a sort of general, stereotypical way, but a good tattoo says something specific … personal. For instance, if you’re a sailor, you might want to get a tattoo of a boat anchor or maybe a Polynesian girl in a grass skirt – a totally unique design that sets you apart from all the nonsailors. If you’re into Lord of the Rings, you could tattoo something in Elvish on your alabaster chest. Try something playful like “T.C.B” or “Mama, fry me up a banana sammich.” If you insist on getting a name tattoo, try to stick with blood relatives. That way your painful divorce won’t include the agony of removing “Alexandra” or “Bartholomew” from the heart on your chest. Of course, those are just general guidelines that you’ll probably be too drunk to remember when you get your first tattoo. That’s OK, the key to getting any tattoo is not to overthink it. Like our president, you don’t want your steadfast resolve clouded by indecision. After the deed is done, you’ll have a lifetime to come up with a brilliant rationalization of your decision. If you’re one of those people who are still on the fence regarding tattoos, you can do some further investigation this weekend at the Austin Convention Center. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday illustrators and the illustrated will converge for Inkfest, a whole convention dedicated to body art. Check out live tattooing and piercing plus contests for “Best Ink of the Day,” “Best Ink of the Weekend,” “Best Body Art,” and Ms. Inkfest 2007. Oh yeah, and there’s live music too. Best of all, it’s indoors and air-conditioned, so even if there are many scary-looking people like there were at ACL, at least they won’t sweat on you.

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Austin City Limits Music Festival

SEPT. 11, 2007

Bill Clinton is doing a booksigning at 11am on Friday at BookPeople. Coincidence? Maybe, but it’s safe to say that “Butter Smooth” Bill is only a phone call or two away from a VIP plus 20 to the Austin City Limits Music Festival. Chances are he’ll be phoning it in Friday morning, limiting his Q&A responses to a thrifty 20 minutes each and hurriedly scribbling autographs so he can get over to Zilker and get his geezer groove on. Imagine our greatest living president doing the white man’s overbite backstage during the Dynamites’ set, pumping his fist (albeit vertically with the thumb turned unthreateningly upward) and playing air saxophone. Yeah, that’s some messed up shit, but you know you would skip your project planning session or at the very least sixth-period biology to witness such an historic moment. You’re probably still kicking yourself for having missed Ben Kweller’s famous nosebleed tampon incident of ACL 2006. Could you really blame Blow Job Bill for wanting to get in on that action? It’s like Tony Montana is in charge of the backstage buffet. If you’re one of the less fortunate 100,000 dirt magnets on the other side of the barricades, you’re probably not going to get a chance to deviate your septum – unless maybe you’re willing to mule a couple of balloon pellets past the security gate – in which case you’re going to need a tampon for more than just your nose. Otherwise, there is plenty of unreasonably priced beer and the occasional communal spliff inexplicably produced by some string cheese trustafarian whose dreads look and smell like skunkweed. If you could find the wherewithal to rock that look, you too could be playing tonsil hockey with a tramp stamped, toe-ringed, hairy-ankled hottie. Of course, not everyone at ACL looks like they just got back from Burning Man. There will be plenty of middle-aged white guys in Hawaiian shirts, Birkenstocked NPR listeners, yuppie condopolitans, college kids, high schoolers, grade schoolers and even sweaty babies in strollers. Yeah, babies like to rock too. Simple math should tell you that your chances of rubbing up against your soulmate at ACL are infinitely better than sitting at home on your couch playing Halo, though maybe not quite as hygienic. One of the things that makes ACL unique is its undeniably multigenerational appeal. Like its namesake public TV show, ACL is all over the demographic map. Unless you’re into frog-throated death rock, you will probably find something you like that you didn’t expect to like. Failing that, you can always count on the big closers like Björk, Dylan, and the White Str– uh … Arcade Fire.

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Beer 101

SEPT. 4, 2007

Why beer? Seriously. There are plenty of different ways to get D to the rerunk that don’t involve farting, peeing a river, or wiping “head” off your lips. Highest on the alcohol pyramid would be ether. Ether’s some good shit if you can put your hands on it. Like most people, your only experience with ether was probably in Curious George Goes to the Hospital. Props to H.A. Rey for dealing with drug abuse in such an honest and forthright manner. You don’t see George running around in terror flailing at frightening hallucinations or riding his bike with no hands (the latter, in fact, is covered in Curious George Rides a Bike, but George isn’t drunk on anything except maybe pride); no, after George hits the ether he is one blissed out, messed up monkey. It was like H.A. was saying, “Kids, you got to get yourself some of this shit!” Sadly, preschoolers don’t have the mental capacity to bookmark quality intoxicants like ether and therefore its stock among adult buzz seekers is fairly low. That’s probably a good thing. One of the big drawbacks to ether is that it’s highly flammable, so if you’re a drinker who likes to smoke, it’s definitely not for you. Just ask Richard Pryor. Next highest alcohol content is Everclear. If you have ever found yourself arched over a toilet at 3 in the morning firehosing purple vomit so hard it feels like it’s trickling out of your eye sockets, you probably have experience with Everclear. The big “E” can be found in a variety of concoctions: Trashcan Punch, Purple Passion, Hairy Buffalo, Cowboy Kool-Aid, Thunderfuck, and perhaps the most appropriately titled, Stupid Juice. All employ basically the same formula: Everclear and something sugary that makes it easier to choke down. In essence, this same simple formula can describe just about any mixed drink, but for whatever reason, Everclear seems to evoke a particularly lowbrow mixology favored by high schoolers and B-list sororities. With a modicum of intelligence and restraint, Everclear can be an effective and relatively pain-free buzz management solution. Unfortunately, people with intelligence and restraint never buy Everclear. Sliding further down the pyramid you’ll pass a dizzying array of rums, whiskeys, vodkas, gins, tequilas, and other liqueurs that run the range from flammable to unconscionable. Most will do the trick nicely as long as you don’t pair them with something like Red Bull or Jell-o cubes, in which case you’re better off cracking yourself on the head with the bottle they came in. Wines? Are you fucking kidding? Bad hangover plus purple zombie teeth? They’re nice in extreme moderation – maybe with some foie gras or a tenderloin or some French people, but if you’re looking to get your buzz on you might as well snort meth. Beer on the other hand is more forgiving. Beer is the solid foundation of the alcoholic pyramid because it has the least amount of alcohol. This is not to say you can’t get crunk on beer, you just have to work a little harder: Maybe stand on your head with the tap in your mouth or drink it through a huge funnel. Otherwise beer is an effective buzz management strategy: You always know what you’re getting … as long as you know your beer. Some beers stick to your ribs like oatmeal, and others run through you quicker than you can open your zipper. All give you something to do with at least one hand at a party. Who knows? Your beer hand might be groping strangers or giving unsolicited shoulder massages if it weren’t otherwise occupied. If you want to get to know beer, you could do a lot worse than this Sunday’s Beer 101 class at Whole Foods on Sixth and Lamar. Sure, there’s a good chance the Wholies will get all epicurean and fail to address the important medicinal properties of America’s intoxicant of choice, but knocking back brew samples at noon on a Sunday might be good pregame for cruising the produce aisles.

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Rock and Roll Karaoke with Nathan Black

AUGUST 28, 2007

This week, Sunday night is Saturday night, so you’ll need to shift your normal Monday hangover to Tuesday. Don’t try to check the math with your Gilbert Grape finger abacus, just tap it into your BlackBerry and call it a day: Monday 8am-5pm – wicked-ass hangover. If you popped for an iPhone, don’t bother entering it into your calendar at all because you’re going to be surfing miniporn on Monday whether you’re hungover or not. Hallelujah, it’s a three-day weekend, a weekend specifically designated to celebrate your contribution to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country. Unless you’re one of those scruffy persons of perpetual leisure who always hang out in front of Quack’s at 10am on a weekday shooting the shit, petting your mangy dog, and holding a slightly beat up acoustic guitar for no particular reason. For you, Labor Day is just a tiny ripple in the cosmic continuum, marked only by the annoyance of having industrious, kempt, and contributing members of society walk through your bum circle wearing the shit-eating grins of prisoners on early parole. Don’t be a hater. Come Tuesday the serenity of the eight-hour workday will return, and you and your shiftless companions can return uninterrupted to the important cerebral pursuit of creating a cogent unified field theory. If however, you’re one of those folks in the fat part of the bell curve whose employment is less cerebral but better compensated, this weekend is a rare opportunity to blow the carbon off your mental fuel injectors with some high-octane entertainment. And what, you may ask, might that be? Karaoke of course! Hell, anyone can BASE jump, street luge, or run with the bulls, but it takes some serious sack to get up on a stage in front of a roomful of (or more likely … several) auditory masochists and belt out a heinously off-key rendition of “Tiny Dancer.” For that matter it takes a certain amount of courage (liquid or otherwise) to even show up at a karaoke night. Sadly, most bars don’t have discreet parking in the rear like massage parlors and escort agencies, so if you park your racing-striped magenta Mini Cooper out front of a bar on karaoke night, you stand a good chance of being outed as a hopelessly depraved exhibitionist. That’s the kind of crazy risk your average bungee jumper will never know, and bungee jumping costs a lot more than a couple of shots of tequila and your dignity. This Labor Day you can experience the thrill of depraved exhibitionism right on Red River at Beerland, where Rock & Roll Karaoke host Nathan Black works the mic every Monday night. Close your holiday strong, and don’t worry, you can’t park anywhere close to Beerland anyway.

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Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival

August 21, 2007

You’re probably thinking, “Why even go to the Hot Sauce Festival if I can’t bring my dog or my cooler? Touché. Point taken. Nothing completes your festival experience like the companionship of a furry friend or the crisp, clean taste of your own choice of brew. What’s the use of attending a festival where you can’t play Frisbee fetch with your dog – especially in the midst of a crowd, and especially when your dog is sporting a bandana jauntily fastened about its neck? Kee-ute. So what if he occasionally hikes his leg and “marks” a baby stroller or tries to ferret out a red rat from beneath some stranger’s sundress? He’s not trying to hurt anyone; he’s just being a dog. And if (God forbid) he freaks out and mauls some innocent toddler while you’re fist-pump rocking to the band, you can reassure the parents that he’s never done that before and that it must have been because their toddler made some menacing movement. After all, there are no bad dogs, just bad people. Dogs aren’t moralists. If they were, they would probably judge it immoral to take a dog to a crowded festival. Then again, that’s just hypothetical extrapolation – something else dogs suck at. They are however, very good at eating, pooping, peeing, sniffing, and catching Frisbees, which is more than can be said of many dog owners, especially when they’ve knocked back a cooler’s worth of beer. No, it doesn’t take an especially sharp intellect or an excessive amount of skill and agility to safely shepherd the average canine through a press of festival-goers, but the mere act of doing so reveals a certain lack of judgment – the type of stupidity that is only further amplified by the consumption of alcohol. Drunk people are stupid enough, so how humiliating must it be to have to share a leash with one – in public? OK, so maybe you can leave the dog at home, but the cooler? Damn, that’s harsh. A dogless person should be able to enjoy a chilled beverage without getting hassled by the man. Right? Well … yeah … sorta, except that 10,000-plus people with their own coolers in Waterloo Park isn’t a hot sauce festival, it’s a clusterfuck. Besides, if you’re going to bring beer, you should bring enough for everybody. Otherwise you’ll look like a beer-hoarding asshole. So, unless your cooler has room for 20,000 beers, leave it at home. You can buy beer at the Hot Sauce Festival and the proceeds benefit the Capital Area Food Bank. Without the dog and the cooler, you’ll have two hands free to sample hundreds of salsas and more importantly, to carry the three nonperishable food items that the food bank is requesting for admission to the festival.