Years ago I read a fascinating book by Tony Horwitz titled “Confederates in the Attic.” Mr. Horwitz went to great lengths to travel with and hang around Civil War re-enactors. He really delved into the sub-culture and examined at length the conflict between members of this unique group of guys and women regarding authenticity and commitment to historical accuracy. These folks go all out and even had people playing the part of Civil War-era doctors, cooks, blacksmiths, hookers, and more.
A great read. A best seller. Very entertaining. Highly recommended.
I recently got the bug and started thinking about joining a reenactment group but was stymied by the fact that I am not really into the warlike nature of this hobby (passion?). I did a little research and discovered that there were not only Civil War re-enactors but Revolutionary War aficionados, Medieval War groups, Dark Ages lovers and much, much more.
Since I am pretty much of a pacifist I went down the checklist and eliminated anything that involved rifles, machine guns, spears, swords, cavalry charges, cannoneers, arrows, castle sieges, simulated leg amputations, and so forth.
After much research, I finally stumbled upon something really obscure that tickled my fancy. I found a group of people who were dedicated to re-enacting Looney Tunes cartoons! Now here was something I could sink my historical teeth into! I never was much of a Disney cartoon fan, preferring, instead, the antics of Daffy Duck over Donald Duck. Think about it. When was the last time you remember an Elmer Fudd type character in a Donald Duck cartoon fire a shotgun directly into Donald’s face and have no effect other than to make his bill swivel around his head at lightning speed until it finally fell on the ground, sprouted legs, and hauled ass into the woods?
That first day of hunting season was always a bitch for Daffy. Bugs Bunny seemed to fare much better. I remember one hunting episode starring where Elmer got so frustrated he tore up his contract with Warner Brothers and went over to a tree where he sat contentedly. He uttered what I believe to be one of the funniest lines ever spoken in a Warner Brothers cartoon while sitting amidst the torn shreds of his contract: “Ah…West and Wewaxation at Wast…and no more Wascawee Wabbit!”
HAHAHAHAHA! Now that’s funny.
Think about it! Daffy was really nuts. Donald just quacked a lot.
At any rate, I contacted the organizer and group leader and, like me, he was into the whole Warner Brothers thing: Foghorn Leghorn, Porky Pig, Daffy, Bugs, Yosemite Sam. We had a good old time talking on the phone and spent at least two hours reminiscing about our favorite scenes and characters. I was invited to observe an upcoming reenactment in North Carolina.
When I got there I saw at least fifty people dressed in every costume imaginable. I watched a really authentic rendition of one of the many duels between Foghorn Leghorn and the guard dog. A classic episode. I wasn’t allowed to take pictures so I include this still shot from the actual cartoon being performed.
They also had a guy playing the part of the Foghorn’s weasel nemesis...
Although I was supposed to just be an observer, the organizer of the event told me that one of the characters did not show up as planned. He was stuck in a rest area somewhere in Southern Virginia with a discombobulated radiator. He asked me if I would like to participate. “Oh, Heck Yeah!” I said. He handed me a costume which I immediately jumped into. Oh Boy!
I was instantly transformed into Wile E. Coyote.
Next thing I know some dude in a Road Runner costume runs up and hands me an anvil. I thought it was a prop but it turned out to be real and I dropped it on my foot. Crap in a knapsack!
I jumped around screaming in pain and next thing I knew they were dragging me over to what appeared to be a dynamite-powered Go-Cart. I peered up ahead and noticed a huge safe perched precariously on a cliff next to yet another guy dressed in a Road Runner outfit.
I was the only person in a Wile E. Coyote costume but there must have at least a half dozen dudes doing the Road Runner part. What the hell was going on here? Was this some sort of sadistic initiation into their group or were they trying to kill me? I had quite enough and made a hasty retreat to my car. I heard the sound of laughter and looked into the rear view mirror to see high fives all around. Lesson learned. I did manage to get a free coyote costume out of the deal so I guess it was all worthwhile.