Harvest Homecoming is Decadent & Depraved?
“Yes! This is for parking!” the lady exclaims as I roll down my window.
“How much?” I ask.
“Five dollars!” She shouts back, way too perky for my ears this morning.
“Oh, I won’t be here that long,” I reply, and keep on driving.
Taking a left and another left, I find myself in front of Colette and Grady’s house. I park and consider rousing Colette from bed and making her attend this god-awful required event with me. I have the best pot, and I know she’ll be in for a wake and bake, but 9 A.M. is a ridiculous hour to get stoned, so I lock my car and walk the two blocks over to the Harvest Homecoming festival alone.
I really don’t want to go. See, I’ve got this thing about crowds. Hate ‘em. They scare the hell out of me, quite frankly. I always have the feeling that disaster is imminent and always conclude that a short fuck like me is a goner when the crowd takes off running from whatever chaotic shit it is that I am sure will go down. I’m convinced the human stampede will knock me down and trample me. Hence my search for decadence and depravity at 9 o’clock in the morning—I figure the crowd will be pretty thin.
Being from Louisville, I’ve never even heard of Harvest Homecoming. Festival’s been going on for twenty-plus years and I was oblivious, the way many Louisvillians are oblivious to anything that happens across the river, as if Southern Indiana was communist Berlin. It’s never too late to learn, I suppose, and so I plunge into the heart of Harvest Homecoming.
The first thing you see at the festival is the food. Food vendors literally corner the market selling everything from “taco bags” and polish sausage steaming in a mess of onions and peppers to cotton candy and funnel cakes. Polish sausage at 9 o’clock in the morning sounds pretty repulsive, and yet there they are, stinking up the streets as I approach the festival. The biggest crowd is in front of the Mason’s donut booth–“3 for 99¢”. I’m tempted to get in line, but when I see a fat guy walking away from the counter chomping on donuts dripping with glaze, I think of my own spare tire and decide against it.
Walking along, I look for my cigarettes but realize I left them at home. 9 a.m. is just too goddamn early. Asking a vendor, I learn that Chef’s Diner—straight ahead—sells cigarettes for an ungodly price. No matter, I gotta have ‘em, especially since the crowd thickens with every moment and my alarm swells with it. The diner is a small steel trailer with barely enough room for four or five customers. The three middle-aged gentlemen at the counter look as haggard as I feel, stooped over cups of coffee, puffing on cigarettes, looking rather defeated. The two ladies behind the counter must be related because they look very much alike, like mother and daughter. Maybe it’s just what Hunter S. Thompson once described—maybe they’re a product of a “closed and ignorant,” “inbred” culture.
They’ve only got Marlboro, so I resign myself to it, slide my $4.25 across the counter and saunter out.
As soon as I step outside I’m assaulted by the sight of the anti-abortion booth. Two very old gentlemen, one with an unsettlingly gnarly nose, are running it, still trying to set up their propaganda. I walk up, intent on straightening out these controlling, misguided geriatric rednecks, but think better of it and just take mental notes. Still, I’m extremely offended by their props. The main display is a plaster cast of fetuses in the three trimesters. The fucked up thing is that all three fetuses look exactly the same, only the size is different. All three are perfectly complete baby-looking fetuses, which is just an outright lie, since a fetus has barely left the pig stage by the end of the first trimester. It doesn’t get any more depraved in this world than willful and advocated ignorance. Shame on the liars, shame on them—it’s a goddamn sin to lie.
They’ve got these “dolls” that are shaped like fetuses and they’ve wrapped each one in a pink or blue cloth. I grab one and stalk off, pulling the fetus-doll out of the pink blanket to find the damn thing has no face, but it does have a penis. I’ve really got to work on my plan to get “Gummi Fetuses” manufactured and marketed, so I can go around chomping them by the handful in front of anti-abortion protesters, letting them dangle—life sized—out of the corners of my mouth. I’ll show them depraved…
Walking on, my eyes are drawn to a Baptist church booth in which sits a wheel-chaired woman with no less than ten iridescent pearls hanging from various parts of her face. She’s probably got more piercings than all of New Albany High School, and her cohort—who I assume is her mate—has about half as many piercings in his own face. I can’t help it—I must find out what kind of Baptists these people are, so I ask point-blank. I’m disappointed when they explain that they aren’t Baptists, they aren’t even religious, they just run a Boy Scout troupe, which happens to meet at the church. And here I was hoping that local Baptists might be lightening up and really living the Christian life. Should’ve known better.
People are milling about the walkway, sucking on those decadent donuts, pushing strollers or pulling elderly parents behind them. I walk past the Indiana State Police booth, past the Avon booth, and the AFL-CIO, past the arts and crafts booths that sell everything from leather goods to plastic floral arrangements, most of which take credit cards. Boy, Harvest Homecoming sure has come a long way from the community spirit it once conveyed to the corporate-sponsored money-fest it is now. Talk about depraved.
The air is crisp as I walk back to my car, it fills my lungs with its coldness and they are grateful after all the smoke I’ve pumped into them. Crossing the street, reflecting on the morning’s activities, I decide such festivities are not for me. These things are for families living the American dream in one way or another, and the corporations who drain them of their hard-earned cash. The American dream isn’t for me; I have no want of money and, indeed, no money and I doubt I’ll ever make it back to Harvest Homecoming. Harvest Homecoming is decadent and depraved? You bet it is—in the most insipid ways possible, so subtle at keeping small-towners small town—in that bubble that defines “closed and ignorant” culture.