Scene & Herd - Pug Life

A pugnacious weekend

Since 1999, Pugfest has been metro Atlanta's premier annual pug-themed social event. Sponsored by Southeast Pug Rescue and Adoption, Pugfest raises money for the group's ongoing effort to help the region's needy pug population.

Pugfest 2005 was held last Saturday at the Gwinnett County Fairgrounds in Lawrenceville. Not since Buckhead's ill-fated Pugnik '96 party has metro Atlanta seen such a large gathering of pugs in one place. I was too busy ooh-ing and aah-ing to count, but I'm guessing there were several hundred of the adorable, snorty, hairy, big-eyed little pugs in attendance. I'm not kidding — you could hear pug-snorts from the parking lot 500 feet away.

Speaking of the parking lot, pug-lovers chose to announce their pug-nacity with bumper stickers and license plate frames. I saw several "Got Pug" stickers, and I parked next to an SUV whose license plate frame boasted about how their pug is smarter than my honor student.

After paying $5 at a fairground ticket booth marked with a big sign that read "NO PETS," I proceeded past 20 or so pugs frolicking on a lawn, past the two new cars on display courtesy of Pugmire Lincoln-Mercury, and into the event building. The edges of the building were lined with vendors selling pug-themed goods. There were pug hats, pug mugs, pug art, and pug wallets. The event's official T-shirt depicted three pugs driving in a red convertible MINI Cooper.

Most impressive to me, there were at least two sets of pug luggage (puggage?). Just to clarify, it wasn't luggage designed for pugs to use. Rather, it was luggage whose exteriors featured airbrush-looking depictions of idyllic pug splendor. One of the sets was priced at $99.

In the center of the room sat several hundred pug owners and their pugs. Their attention was focused on the elevated stage in the middle of the room. The stage was the site of Pugfest's main entertainment, the event's pug-themed contests. Among the contests I saw were Best Trick (the winner played dead when his owner pretended to shoot it), Best Kisser (the winning dog was the one who could lick its owner most vigorously), and Curliest Tail (self-explanatory, I hope).

Since it was Halloween weekend, there was a costume contest, too, of course. I missed the contest, but I did see dozens of dogs in costume. My favorite was Sherlock Holmes pug. He had a coat, hat, pipe and magnifying glass, and he was accompanied by a pug Watson. Sad to say, however, that he does not solve crimes.

20th-Century Ape Man: The Kinks and T. Rex are two of my all-time favorite bands. What pugs are to Pugfest-goers, those two bands' music is to me.

So imagine how pointy my nipples got when a friend of mine e-mailed to tell me that Lenny's was hosting a T. Rex vs. the Kinks battle of the cover bands. The show was last Friday. Playing the role of T. Rex was Ocha La Rocha. Ocha La Rocha's lead singer looked and sounded like a modern-day version of late T. Rex principal Marc Bolan. He even sported a wig to replicate Bolan's trademark corkscrew curl. Though the band was a tad under-rehearsed (or, quite possibly, just very stoned), they frequently nailed T. Rex's groove to a T. Particularly great was their version of "Buick Mackane."

Playing the Kinks was a group called Variac. They were less Kinksy than Ocha La Rocha was T. Rexy, but they made up for it with super-tight, well-rehearsed, high-energy performances of "You Really Got Me," "All Day and All Night of the Night," "Lola," and "Picture Book," a song they helpfully introduced as the one from the HP printer commercial.

After the show, I drove over to a warehouse on Krog Street for a costume party celebrating (translation: advertising) the release of the video game version of the movie The Warriors. Attendees were encouraged to dress up like gang members from the movie with an offer of half-off the party's $10 admission.

I showed up a little after midnight. Even though I was dressed as an Iranian ayatollah (a character which, if I recall correctly, does not appear in the film), I didn't have to pay. It's not that I was on a list or anything. There just wasn't anybody at the door taking money.

Despite the lack of strict costume enforcement, most of the party-goers were indeed in costume. The most popular costume for men appeared to be '30s-style gangster suits. Among women, the outfit I saw the most of was late-'70s short-shorts. I'm not saying it was the most popular costume, just that it was the one I kept noticing, if you get my drift.

Another Friggin' Parade: This year I wore two Halloween costumes. On Friday night I was an ayatollah. On Saturday night, I was an open-minded educated Muslim woman. The costume was inspired by a letter I got a few months ago complimenting me as an "open-minded, educated Muslim woman." The costume was supplied by my mother. She bought it in Iran a few months ago, intending to give it to my girlfriend for her to wear. She refused, so I used it.

I wore the outfit to the Grant Park Halloween Parade. Unlike the nearby Little Five Points Halloween Parade, the Grant Park Halloween Parade was a low-key affair. Basically, it was neighborhood parents and their adorable little costumed kids all marching together. The parade began by Grant Park's pool and ended at one of its playgrounds.

By the way, remember how I told you last week that my friend Reid manages to ride his unicycle in nearly every parade in the city? He was there again on Saturday. Setting a good example for all of the neighborhood kids, he wore a helmet while he rode.

For more on Andy's travels, visit Scene & Herd at andy2000.org.

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