Make no mistake. Mental midgets run Myrtle Beach.
This city thrives in spite of the lack of intellect, foresight and common sense of our leaders. Our elected officials should walk out on the beach every day and kiss the sand for saving their arses.
Shortly after getting back from a gloriously peaceful walk on the beach Saturday morning — I found 18 sharks teeth in 90 minutes, including a large, well-shaped, great white shark tooth — I was subjected to LOUD, live, Christian music. So were my neighbors — dozens of them.
The Myrtle Beach Marathon was in full swing and a throng of well-wishers were stationed just outside my apartment building on 65th Avenue. Volunteers associated with the Real Life Church cheered wildly and offered runners Gatorade and water, starting around 8:30 a.m.
I’m a civic-minded guy who digs the marathon. I admire the dedication of its participants and salute the volunteer supporters stationed throughout the city. The shouting didn’t bother me. I just turned up the volume on my computer and listened to Jefferson Airplane while dabbling in some creative writing.
Then, just before 9 a.m., the walls of my cabana started shaking. The lyrics “hookah smoking catepillar” were drowned out by Christian music blaring through a system that would have made The Who proud.
“Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Praise be to Him. Glory, glory, glory…”
Fearing that Hare Krishnas might have invaded the ‘hood, I bolted to my bedroom window and looked outside. The band had set up 20 feet from the road — so close to me that I could see the three whiskers on the lead singer’s chin. Seriously. I could see dimples on the guitarist’s naked noggin. For the sake of posterity, I stepped off the distance. The Crappy Crusaders were no more than 120 feet from the desk at which I write.
Have I mentioned yet that I’m bipolar? That I take medication because I’m prone to drastic mood swings? That I transform from being a zen lunatic into a raging monster at the sound of off-key, grating, gospel music?
Well, I crossed the street to voice my displeasure, walking mid-song amidst the group on their performance tarp. Harsh words were exchanged. I reckon they didn’t like my critique. The pastor asked who I was and escorted me away.
The hypocrisy of organized religion astounds me. “Love thy neighbor.” Yeah, right.
I retreated to my sepulchre, rolled back the cement slab that is my doorway, and called the police. An officer told me that at least two other citizens had complained. He was very professional and courteous as he explained to me that the church group had been granted a permit to perform.
“What? Really? This is a residential area.”
A permit for live music? They weren’t playing the Rocky theme or Eye of the Tiger. They were playing music aimed solely at those who believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
So much for separation of church and state. I know. I’m really stretching it on that point. Our forefathers were just trying to guarantee an atmosphere of religious liberty when they amended the Constitution. They weren’t trying to protect the masses from ear-piercing eucharists.
But let’s face it. Marathons and religious music don’t normally go hand-in-hand. To make any connection between the two, one might have to go back to the days before Christ when some hippy Greek dude was playing a lyre as Pheidippides ran from Marathon to Athens. Even then, the Greek hipster was trying to please Zeus. Not the God to whom Christians pray.
The pastor and I shook hands and agreed to disagree the second time that I went outside. I told him that I had heard a lot of good things about him. He apologized and said that he didn’t take into consideration that I was new to the area. That was condescending. While I just moved into my place nine months ago, I’ve lived in the same general neighborhood for a decade. I’ve walked 65th Avenue nearly every day since then, sometimes stopping to pick up discarded cans and bottles from the fringes of the Real Life Church property.
“We do this every year,” he said.
“Does that make it right?” I asked.
The pastor then told me that I was the only person to object.
“No,” I said to him calmly. “I’m just the only one who had the balls to complain to you personally.”
By coincidence, good friends visited me and more mayhem followed. Frankly, things got even uglier. “We don’t teach our children lies,” Gillian Wessex said to them. One of the “Real Life” folks raised her arms to the heavens and shouted, “Jesus rebukes you.” It was her way of saying that we were destined for eternal damnation in a lake of fire. There’s nothing worse than being rebuked by someone who hasn’t been seen for 2,000 years, and I hate long periods of damnation. My friends and I responded accordingly.
The guitarist, Chrome Dome, invited us to join them — as if their self-perceived righteousness would rub off on us and we would transform into “better” people. Nothing squeals more loudly than a sanctimonious pig.
“No thanks,” I said. “I have my own cult.”
Anyway. The church wasn’t to blame for what happened. The entirety of Saturday morning’s chaos rests on the shoulders of the nitwits at city hall. Yes, the same twits that tried a few years ago to run off hundreds of thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts (and the income derived from them) because they make too much noise. Our city representatives would turn wine back into water. They would mess up a wet…You get my drift.