Saturday, October 25, 2008


This week, we got out a bit. Tuesday, we saw a screening of Mike Leigh’s latest film, Happy-Go-Lucky, which is about a 30-year-old gal named Poppy with an exceedingly bubbly personality and toothy smile who is quite content in her humble life of teaching elementary school kids, going to dance clubs with her younger sister and beloved flatmate and striking up conversations with random homeless men and bookstore employees. Poppy has never learned to drive and it is her driving lessons with an extremely uptight and almost murderously indignant driving instructor that are the nexus of this very humorous and quite lovely film, which I highly recommend.

Wednesday evening was my first death/prog metal concert in Atlanta. The pregnant wife wasn’t up for it, so I went alone. I saw Swedish metal titans Opeth at Center Stage, a comfy, yet fairly large venue in Midtown. I have long been a fan of Opeth’s meandering, Cookie-monster-voiced, Scandinavian art metal and this was a fine, lengthy concert of elegant guitarsmanship, double bass drum rattling and thundering power chords, with the surprising and unusual for a metal concert addition of very funny, between song comments from the singer. He is Swedish, but has a very proper sounding English accent and almost everything he said was amusing like, "This next song is from the new album... Did I just see a bunch of people roll their eyes?" I don’t recall ever seeing a metal band where the singer cracked so many jokes. Though, the main thing I was interested in was whether a death metal concert in the South would be any different than the many I’ve attended in L.A. The only difference I observed was that people were more into it, yelling out requests, moshing with their shirts off (gross) and whipping out their lighters for a ballad. But that I’ve noticed is the case for most good concerts outside of L.A., New York or London, where everyone is very blasé about seeing bands and can barely be bothered to clap. The only thing particularly Southern was a guy with a thick accent who yelled, “Play some Skynyrd!”

I also went to my first Jewish event in Atlanta this week. We saw a holocaust film called The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, which was part of the Jewish Film Festival. I was a bit shocked when we first entered the theater to find it filled with yarmulke-wearing dudes, many of them speaking Hebrew. My people. I have been to the Jew part of Atlanta and seen the Jew stores and Kosher pizza places and even flipped through the local Jewish newspaper, but I had not yet been to any sort of event that was packed with Jews up to this point. While we were waiting for the film to start, I was doing impressions of NY Jews and L.A. Jews and Israeli Jews and trying to explain which group could be more obnoxious to my non-Jewish wife, who was shushing me, when a yarmulke-wearer plopped down right next to us and I had to abruptly can it. Hebrew-speaking mofos right here in Georgia! Who knew? Also, very Jewish, was during the opening credits when someone said aloud, “Could you please be quiet?” to the few people who were still talking.

Then this evening, we went on the Castleberry Hill art stroll, which is similar to the Downtown Art Walk in L.A., where they were having an event called Le Flash. Castleberry Hill is a quite fantastic neighborhood of galleries, art lofts, tiny stores, ancient hole-in-the-wall barbershops, clubs and old brick buildings adjacent to Downtown Atlanta. The highlight of the evening was one gallery where a group of kids were gathered in a circle breakdancing. Just like back in the day, when I was a snot-nosed junior high schooler attempting to spin on the gym floor, these kids would circle around clapping and shouting to an old school mix, while each would move to the center of the group poplocking and spinning and bustin’ some super fancy moves. Some of them were wearing track suits. They all looked to be between the ages of 15 and 20. Guys were spinning on their elbows and doing flips. I hadn’t seen nuthin’ like that in a long, long time.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Autumn on the Blue Ridge Parkway, NC
1. People are real nice and friendly here

2. Southern cuisine

3. Autumn and so many trees you wouldn’t believe

4. Sweet tea

5. People are real funny, even if most of the time they don’t mean to be

6. Real estate, groceries, gas are all cheaper than most other places you might want to live in

7. The countryside is always nearby and real perty like

8. Southerners have a hearty sense of humor, even if it can be kinda dim-bulb-ish sometimes or often

9. Hillbillies and bluegrass music

10. Pie is gud. I like pie.


Dixie Republic in South Carolina

1. The summer is too sticky, nasty, yucky.

2. For the most part, bugs run the place

3. Way too much nutso Jesus b.s.

4. The widespread concept that being a dumb-ass or a redneck dumb-ass is something to be proud of

5. Southern vegetable side dishes are often cooked in bacon fat or some other pork-based grease, so being a vegetarian, I can almost never eat collard greens, black-eyed peas, etc.

6. If you go into a country antique store, it will almost surely contain racist books, dolls, toys, art and various items with offensive images.

7. Too many soldiers, too many parents of soldiers with varying patriotic bumper stickers

8. People are overly fanatical about football

9. There are conservative black Republicans and they don’t necessarily like Obama at all

10. Not everybody is so well edumacated, like the gentleman who emailed me, “Can I meat you at 4 pm?”


1. There’s a lot of Civil War history, but who really cares?

2. Southern rock (Lynyrd Skynyrd, .38 Special, The Allman Brothers) is a fairly dunderheaded genre of music, but when you are cruising on some godforsaken highway past rotting houses and unwavering nothingness, it seems very apt to the surroundings

3. Falling acorns are nice, but not when they dent the windshield of your car

4. As for Dirty South, can’t stand Lil John or the Ying Yang Twins or most of it really, but Young Jeezy and Lil’ Wayne have their moments and of course all white people like Outkast

5. Not so many Jews around to make Jew jokes with

Monday, October 6, 2008


Blairsville, GA

Courthouse, Murphy, NC

covered bridge in NC

City Hall, New Hope, TN

Anderson, SC

Drive-In Restaurant, NC

old church in Murphy, NC

Old Texaco Station, Northeast GA

animatronics in oldest schoolhouse in St. Augustine, Florida

St. Augustine, FL

Newnan, GA, City of Homes

The sign reads "Pabst Quality Always Comes Through" Near Juliette, GA

Sunday, October 5, 2008


So inviting

When in need of gas, the Georgia motorist may choose between the gleaming Quik Trip with its perpetually spinning taquitos and wiener dogs and friendly uniformed employees or the Citgo station, where one can perhaps help Hugo Chavez foment social revolution, or the usual Exxons, Chevrons and Shells, which are virtually indistinguishable and found everywhere. But the enterprising motorist who wants to save a couple of dollars can also choose to procure their gas at the much livelier, often independent ghetto gas station.

Though it may not have made the national news much, Georgia recently went through a gas crisis for a couple of weeks, where the vast majority of gas stations were closed and the few that were open had long lines of cars and gas available only for a few hours. Gas was available randomly at one gas station or the other and occasionally at the ghetto gas station.

Normally, it’s not everybody that wants to get their gas there. While many gas stations attempt to entice customers with bright red and yellow color schemes and incredibly cheap and disgusting greasy food offerings, the only thing the ghetto gas station has going for it is a price that is sometimes 20 cents less per gallon, though not always or even half the time.

The customer must consider a number of questions before entering the ghetto gas station. Is that place really open? Will I be killed for 20 cents less a gallon? Is that worth giving my life for?Is the credit card machine thingy at the pump going to work or do I have to go inside past everybody who, for whatever reason, is hanging out at the ghetto gas station?

There’s the dudes in white baseball caps and matching white T-shirts drinking soda and soaking up the fumes and the guys in SUVs who have pulled up seemingly just to socialize loudly with each other in the harmonious environment of the ghetto gas station, and the crackhead lady with a look of true desperation and the squeegee guy, who doesn’t even have a squeegee, and some other dudes just hanging out for the love of the ghetto gas.

Though I have nearly no friends in Atlanta, crave social contact and occasionally talk to the chipmunk in my backyard, I have not yet resorted to palling around the ghetto gas station.

This Wings Plus is attached to the Candler Marathon Gas Station

"Blood" has been spray painted on this ghetto gas station. It is open.

This ghetto gas station on Moreland Avenue has no name

Some ghetto gas stations have little takeout places attached like Burger Win, which serves burgers and Chinese food

Ghetto gas closed

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


This sign points to the trees where one can buy the bold pnut.
(Near Dahlonega, GA)