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.