Yes, it’s true. I became one-year older today, and perhaps even a bit wiser largely as a result of having attended the non-stop
partying symposia at this yearâ€™s drunken brawl that is the Jawja, Blown Eyed Blogmeet South Eastern Writersâ€™ Conference. There is always much to learn at such a gathering of incurable blabbermouths who drink to gott-damned much highly talented and creative people.
Ken (my friend and bodyguard) and I touched on eight states to cover the 800+ miles between our home base in the Garden State and Helen, Georgia. We drove through some truly beautiful country, we spent an evening in downtown Gaffney, South Carolina (Home of the Giant Killer Peach that ate Cleveland), we saw lots of hoofed animals eating grass and even caught more than a couple whiffs of the natural product of the biologically processed grass. OOOOOOH-fah!
When we arrived in Helen, we learned that the only peeps who had gotten there before us were Zonker (with whom I share a boitday), Sam and Barbie, who had moseyed over to the Troll (that is the name of the place â€“ no booshit) to wash down a few, apparently to tune up for the rest of the day.
Having sat in the car for umpteen hours, we decided to take a pass on the Troll. Instead we popped open the trunk of the Cadoo exposing the beer and chocolate vodka – filled cooler and decided to serve as the greeting party. Within an hour or so, reprobates began pouring in from all over the place resulting in a full-fledged parking lot party that would rival most of the pre-game tailgating craziness that one would find at Giants Stadium (which happens to be in New Jersey, not New York).
Such marked the beginning of the adventure, which, over the next two days, would move from the parking lot, to the river bank, to one of the hotel rooms, back to the river bank, then to one of the cabins. Industrial-sized batches of Chatham Artillery Punch (a seriously dangerous concoction) were made and were available at the ever-changing venues. Other spirits and beer (lots of beer) were available at all times as well. We made sure that we continued our mission of educating the world about the wonders of Three Olives Chocolate Vodka, one Southeastern Writer at a time.
An amazing cast of characters showed up.
Sam showed up with Barbie, and they had begun the party on Thursday night! Sam is like the Eveready Bunny at these things. He goes non-stop, which this year included an early Saturday morning drive with Zonker back to Atlanta to pick up a rather special surprise guest. I â€œswear by the Makerâ€ I donâ€™t know how they managed to make that trip on Saturday morning, because I know they were still up and washing them down until 3:30 the night before. (Donâ€™t ask me how I know this.) Barbie took a gazillion pictures with a veddy, veddy fancy camera, so I would advise everyone to be veddy veddy nice to Barbie.
Zonker sported a set of horns on his head (no shit — check it out!) and kept the Chatham Artillery Punch Bowl filled. I met Zonker three years ago in Helen, and Iâ€™ve seen him at damned near every blogmeet Iâ€™ve attended. He gets just a bit wackier each time. Iâ€™m afraid that this is what happens when a Jersey Guy abandons the Garden State.
Elisson, the Belidded One, and SWMBO arrived after having picked up The Wiseass Jooette and Leslie at the Atlanta Airport. I believe they were the ones responsible for actually providing a genuine punch bowl for the punch, which heretofore was served from a five-gallon plastic pail (I booshit you not).
Elisson SWMBO always brings class to these get-togethers, and Iâ€™m quite certain she has never worn a colander.
Elisson delivered Leslie of Omnibus Fame and The Wiseass Jooette to Helen, having picked them up at the dreaded Atlanta Airport. Unlike most of the Blown-Eyes, Leslie is more of a listener than a blabbermouth. But, be not fooled, because talking with Leslie makes one feel as comfortable as lounging in a warm bath. By contrast, the Wiseass Jooette never missed a single opportunity to toss some of her unique Brooklyn Bullshit my way. But, thatâ€™s a Yankee thing, so Iâ€™m used to it. (Please remind her that Jackie Robinson was OUT when he stole home on Yogi in the ’55 Series, long before her sorry, built-too-low-to-the-ground ass was born.)
Denny, the other half of the Elderly Brothers, as usual, came with a big smile and guitar in hand. He bills himself as â€œGrouchy,â€ but he really isnâ€™t. He even managed to crack us up when the peeps helping him down a set of stairs almost managed to break yet another chunk of his back. â€œNow, I feel realllllll confident about having you guys get me down the stairs!â€ They just donâ€™t get any betterâ€™n Denny.
Catfish was there with his new â€œdoo.â€ Damn, I think the guy is trying to play me with the hair thing. I could listen to Catfish talk all damned day long. The voice, the cadence, the inflections â€¦ Itâ€™s all beautiful music â€“ even when heâ€™s talking about â€œbig, olâ€™ titties.â€ We spent some quality time reminiscing about Rob Smith, his friend of many years. He also insisted that I visit his place to behold the white alligator living in his pond. Iâ€™ll be doing that real soon, NOT.
Eric and the lovely Mrs. SWG popped in on Saturday, but they lost no time catching up with the lunacy. Eric did one of his trademark Robert Service recitations, which captivated the audience (See? We are a literary bunch). After that he was soliciting peeps (mostly women) to read Robert Service aloud. I guess that works better than â€œWhatâ€™s your sign?â€ or â€œWhatâ€™s your major?â€
V-Man was there with Key. He stopped the show on Friday when he donned the dirndl gifted to him by Zonker and then dropped trou! Sam and Key have the pictures. Memo to Key Monroe: There is still time! Call your shrink!
Dax breezed in complete with leather lid and a Mexican serape, probably scaring some random children along the way. He looked like a Mexican Viking. He also brought his axe and put it to good use on Friday and Saturday.
GuyK and Sweetthing dropped by for an all-too-short visit. They tried to make it back on Saturday, but the traffic getting into Helen turned them around. They also introduced us to Sweetthingâ€™s bro â€“ a real nice guy.
Recondo 32 and Georgia were also there. Old friends of Robâ€™s, it wouldnâ€™t be a proper blogmeet without them. Recondo 32 is about as soft-spoken as Gary Cooper (but way more funny), while Georgia is a verbal hurricane. I sat next to Georgia for dinner at an outside place on Saturday night, and she damned near blew out my right ear. At one point, cows were being walked down the main street in Helen as part of the Oktoberfest theme, and without any warning, she screamed, â€œMOOOOOOOO!â€ (with a Southern drawl), which was probably heard in Pittsburgh. I damned near shit, as did the people at the next ten or twelve tables away. Georgia is one of a kind.
RSM, recently having completed basic training, made two brief appearances looking for all the world like a kickass drill sergeant. I wish he would have hung out for a while longer.
I also got to meet some new peeps.
Shadowscope, also bedecked with a leather lid, was there with Holder, who amidst all the craziness, demonstrated a Mr. Wizard Science Experiment using a volatile gas. PFOOOOOOOF! It was really cool. Special props to them for permitting the herd to lay waste to their cabin on Saturday night. Shadowscope looked like a hurtinâ€™ cowboy on Sunday morning. Nice peeps. Oh, and lest I forget, their friend Michelle was a genuine pisser. Quiet as a church mouse until the ethanol kicked in, then she morphed into a genuine party animal. She was one of â€œthose peopleâ€ who were up until the wee hours of the morning on Friday. Reprobates!
Special props to the Joanster of Primordial Slack and Jolly Roger. Joan is a Renaissance Woman â€“ a painter, a sculptor, a wonderful writer, a story-teller, a singer and a guitar picker. Whatâ€™s not to like? She also was responsible for the screeching monkeys that flew through the air as well as other blogmeet gifties, including genuine, ersatz Spanish doubloons, one of which now sits proudly on my bookshelf. Roger discovered how cool blogmeets can be when he found himself all jolly in a crowded guitar-playing filled room in a bed surrounded by women and one inflatable barnyard animal. He now knows that you canâ€™t make this shit up.
Finally, a most special surprise was a visit by John Cox, the serious artist and the Cox half of Cox and Forkum. John was picked up on Saturday morning by Sam and Zonker, and when he arrived he didnâ€™t know a soul. In less than ten minutes he knew everyone, and he fit right in. He came armed with a sketch pad and even caught a few of us off guard. He is an exceedingly friendly guy who sports a goatee that looks not unlike the nether regions (i.e the â€œLanding Stripâ€) on some of the unclad women who appear in many of the e-mails we all seem to receive from Catfish. Damn, if I could draw, Iâ€™d get even. Kidding aside, go to Johnâ€™s site and check out, not only his huge body of Cox and Forkum work and other cartoons, but his fine art as well. It was kinda like meeting a rock star.
I still am exhausted, but I would happily do it all again tomorrow.