One of my ex-classmates recently paid a visit to New Orleans. He’s from Sri Lanka and is not only an avid hunter, but is also a competitive shooter—a real pistol marksman. He has trouble getting gun parts and accessories sent to Sri Lanka, so he planned a visitaround the recent Great Southern Gun and Knife Show. It’s hard to explainto someone who has lived the majority of his life in a country torn by civilwar why you don’t believe in guns. I opted to skip the political discussion and approach tagging along with the intention of mentally making my own version of Heavy Metal Parking Lot. Here are my takeaways:
5. YOU ARE EXPECTED TO BE CARRYING A LOADED WEAPON
I hadn’t been to the Pontchartrain Center since my senior prom, and as I made my way inside, I was sucked into the giant murals of bare-knuckle boxing matches, stumbling sleepily through the velvet-roped maze to the ticket table. This crusty-eyed bedazzlement was probably key to how caught off-guard I was when the lady at the booth asked me, “Are you carrying a loaded weapon?” You know how when someone asks you a really dumb question you suck your face back into your neck and squench everything up like you just ate a handful of Atomic Warheads? Well, that question made me do that. “No.” Then I looked around and realized it was a valid question. The sweet, old gun-toting lady stamped my hand with a revolver image of some sort, smiled, and ushered me in.
4. SOMETHING FOR EVERY SENSE EXCEPT COMMON
The Pontchartrain Center was lined with tables full of weapons, propaganda, posters, ammo, rifles of all colors, handmade holsters sporting bald eagles, and all expected flags—especially the questionable ones. Stickers with borderline racist slogans were paired with t-shirts of equal lack of taste. I overheard tidbits of conversations you thought were only cliches—like three old guys discussing what really happened that day in Dallas. While there was no firing range inside the convention, there was a lot of taser testing action. The crackling sound of tasers filled the air, matching up with the beams from laser pointers, creating a planetarium laser rock show on par with those classic interpretations of Pink Floyd’s The Wall, but with even more paranoia.
3. LIVING OFF OF THE GRID APPARENTLY DOES NOT INCLUDE THE ELECTRICAL GRID
The survivalist crowd has always intrigued me. I seriously enjoyed reading Emergency: This Book Will Save Your Life by Neil Strauss. Unfortunately, those friendly New World Order-fearing builders of underground homes were apparently not in attendance, for I had spotted something I could really get behind: an alternative energy booth. I watched the booth’s attendant sit alone quietly for hours without any human interaction, as if someone had stocked the kissing booth with an elephant’s asshole.
2. PEACE DOESN’T SELL
I stumbled across the booth selling Nazi memorabilia. I couldn’t believe this was a thing. They even had an armband from an Auschwitz prisoner for sale for $500. If only his actual life had been valued that much by his oppressors.
1. THE RIGHT TO BEAR ONE-LINERS
As I’ve previously said, my friend is a championship competitive pistol marksmen. He’s also left-handed. I stood next to him while he asked the woman at the handmade holster booth if she made left-handed glock holsters. Her reply: “Sorry honey, this booth only leans to the right.” She dropped an imaginary mic and walked out like George Costanza.
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