DIPPETY DOO DAH: A Parade Album of Celebratory Anarchy
The flamboyant, farcical Doo Dah parade was founded in 1976 as a sassy retort to Pasadena’s prim and proper Tournament of Roses. Think Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade meets Burning Man—and if your synapses don’t short out, you’ll have an inkling of the madcap revelry unleashed when over 1200 free spirits gambol down Colorado Avenue.
The motley crew of over 100 parade entries included political activists along with marching bands, floats, wacky cars, and the wildest variety of homegrown satirists and freedom-loving members of the counterculture imaginable.
To cook up some delicious Doo Dah jambalaya, just stir in a Star Wars Stormtrooper, a Chinese dragon, the Bastard Sons of Lee Marvin, and CSI scientists sporting signs that ask, “Come the Rapture, can I have your car?” Then spice it up with a quartet of nearly nude nymphs in pasties, carrying a bed of roses, and mix well!
Before the parade, I chatted with the lovely Erica Valentine, runner-up for Queen, “always the bridesmaid, never the bride,” who towered over my fairly respectable, five feet, six inch, height.
As the participants in this year’s 31st Doo Dah Parade lined up in preparation to begin their march, the legendary Nina Hagen took her position with the Kucinich for President supporters.
Spotting Nina, a member of the Back-to-Disco Drill Team, ran up to her, gushing, “WOW! What a great costume! You look JUST LIKE Nina Hagen!”
To which the “Mother of Punk Rock” responded, “I a-a-a-a-a-am Ne-e-e-e-e-ena Ha-a-a-a-a-agen.”
Nina led the Kucinich group with her stroller and baby Elmo, his mouth covered with a Kucinich bumper sticker as mute condemnation of the silencing of the Congressman when networks removed him from recent presidential debates.
I asked her why she was marching with the “Kucitizens,” and she responded, “The media is destroying the democracy that it should be protecting! Barring Dennis Kucinich from national debates is so sad and so unfathomable—it is propaganda, like we experienced in oppressed East Germany where I grew up.
“My Elmo is a beloved American puppet, and children all over the world love him and his friends, and so to me, he stands for America, the land of the free and the home of the brave! But what I witness in the US today, is the fragility of America’s precious democracy – and so, I bring Elmo to the rescue, with his spirit of joy and optimism!”
The procession had a lively start with Snotty Scotty and the Hankies, …
… an assortment of bikes, …
… NORML superhero Marijuana Man in cape and tights, Howdy Krishna, Tequila Mockingbird, a winged Shetland pony, nearly all the fishnet stockings in captivity, …
… and, naturally, the Pope.
The Doo Dah Grand Marshall, the incomparable Reverend Billy of the “Church of Stop Shopping” led the parade in a pristine white, polyester leisure suit. Hair pumped up to alarming proportions, he warned of the coming “Shop-acolypse” and quipped, “The higher the hair, the closer to God.”
Royalty included HRH, Queen Naughty Mickie, attended by a bevy of zaftig and bespangled belly dancers. And what respectable revelry would be complete without a bona fide sighting of Elvis? Doo Dah offered a diminutive, elementary school-aged, Hispanic version of “The King”, complete with sideburns, cape, and white satin bellbottoms.
Doo Dah, indeed, had it all:
Jay Davenport’s three-wheeled vehicle, aptly named the “Xtreme.”
The Men of Leisure Synchronized Nap Team, with their recumbent leader on what appeared to be a genuine, avocado green, La-Z-boy rocker-recliner.
A completely spotted—inside and out—luxury Leopard Limo, one of a fleet of five owned by Marvin Miller: because in LA, boring basic black is a dime a dozen.
The French Quarter Synchronized Baguette Brigade, brandished their bread, …
… and the John Muir Alumni Drum Core kept the beat movin’ and groovin’.
A trio of belly dancer mimes, 2/3rds WBW. (Translation for the non-Californians: Woman Born Woman.)
Every display of political free speech met with shouts of appreciation and applause, and activist organizations included: 9-11 Truth and Justice, CODEPINK Women For Peace, and the Los Angeles National Impeachment Center. Surfboards and upbeat Beach Boys music graced Amnesty International of Pasadena’s protest float, “Waterboarding, USA.”
CODEPINK’s human rights activist, Tighe Barry, was oh! so Pretty in Pink.
Humans weren’t the only participants with blurred boundaries concerning their orientation.
Or, maybe, it’s less about blurred boundaries, and more about possibility thinking, like this winged Citroën by Forged Metals.
“IMPEACH” signs evoked energetic shouts of support.
Kucitizens for Democracy.
The Obama for President group brandished many banners and signs—the largest, proclaiming oddly, “Obama ’08 – he’s black enough for me!” The only hint of Edwards was a crisp, prefab sign held aloft by a lone, Lands End-attired fellow, who looked gravely misplaced amongst the twisted heathen.
Everybody’s running for president, even Uncle Fester.
The “Chainy-gang” jailbirds: Bush, Cheney, Condi and Rummy bobble heads. Along with the Kucinich supporters, the bobble heads garnered the longest and loudest applause from spectators.
The East LA College Band Cheerleaders.
Over phifty Parrotheads, the “Phine Phlock of Phriends who party with a purpose”, were ready to luau in Hawaiian shirts and grass skirts. Bob Karwin sang "Margaritaville" atop the phloat as the group performed a synchronized dance routine. Their banner proclaimed, “It’s 5-o’clock somewhere!” The group raised over $37,000 for charity through partying last year—membership in a more ideal service organization is hard to imagine!
Ahoy, matey, the Parrothead flatbed was followed by the Parrotheads’ pirate truck, as pirates and their women threw booty to the crowd.
The Howlelujah Chorus, Cheap Sax, The Barbeque and Hibatchi Marching Grill Team, and the LA Music Academy’s strains of “I Will Survive” all contributed to the vibrant patchwork of creativity that is the Doo Dah Parade.
Since 1995, the Doo Dah Parade has been produced by the Pasadena-based, non-profit arts organization, Light Bringer Project, the recipient of the California League of Cities’ Helen Putnam Award of Excellence in Public-Private Partnering.
Dianne Carter. www.myspace.com/diannecarter
Richard B. Ressman, MD www.photosurgeon.net
The LA French Quarter: www.frenchmeetup.com/6
The Parrotheads www.laphc.org
Doo Dah Parade (Pasadena) www.pasadenadoodahparade.info/