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Naked Ramblin’ Man in My Mind

22 Apr

ramblin_raft_race_down_the_chattahoochee_river_atlanta_georgia_may_21_1977_raft_made_of_various_sized_tire_innertubes_tied_together_in_the_riverThere are two things that I remember vividly about Memorial Day weekend 1979.  One is that I had been bitten by either a black widow or a brown recluse spider earlier that week and my left elbow had swollen to double its normal size and turned a shiny bright pink color.  Our family pediatrician, Dr. Sandberg, had to meet us at his office on a holiday weekend, which seemed like a big deal.  Within a couple of days all of the epidermal tissue on my forearm had gone necrotic, turning jet black before withering then falling off in huge sections. The other thing that happened that weekend is that I saw my first naked man.  Guess which one has had the most lasting impact.  

Just imagine what's out of frame.

Just imagine whats out of frame.

He was white, sunburned, kinda tubby and was making “it” dance as he stood arms akimbo, legs askance whilst straddling a makeshift raft floating down the Chattahoochee River past where I stood on the banks of Powers Ferry Landing.  My Mom, because she was gawking and squealing, didn’t cup her hands over my eyes fast enough for me to miss out on that first floppy wiener sighting.*  Memorial Day weekend 1979 is forever etched into my visual recall.  The good news is that moving forward, pretty much any future naked man that I would ever see was certain to be a stone cold fox on my mental comparison chart.  The sad news is that I now traverse that very spot on the river several times a week and so Mr. Red Flabby Naked Man flashes across my mind’s eye every damn time I cross the “3rd bridge” that connects Rays on the River and the infamous Riverbend Apartments over Powers Ferry Landing.

Sponsored by Bud

Sponsored by Bud

See, back in the day there was a little thing in Atlanta called the Ramblin’ Raft Race.  It was kind of a big deal that started out in either 1968 or 1969 as an end of the year social for Delta Sigma Phi fraternity at Georgia Tech.  After a few years, word spread and pretty much the entire city turned out for it, either as a spectator, organizer or a participant.  At it’s peak, about 300,000 people were actually in the river during the race; it was even covered by Dan Rather on the CBS Evening News.  Hell yeah, that’s how we used to do here.

I actually remember seeing this raft from this spot.  Weird.

I actually remember seeing this raft

The quality of rafts ran the gamut from basic inner tubes strung together like a Cuban refugee train, Huck Finn tribute floats, hollowed out VW Bugs and sunken rooflines to feats of naval engineering that were multi-level, carrying pianos, gazebos and giant sneakers.  They may have mimicked Eastern Airlines planes, tiki huts or paid homage to grand paddle wheel or civil war boats.  However, all rafts were equipped with a shit ton of weed and lots of ‘hooch. I seem to recall there also being a handful of hot air balloons in the air, the smell of bbq mingling with the other assumed smells and  hearing a lot of Allman Brothers, Skynard, .38 Special and music that would later make up half of a Yacht Rock set list.  

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So, in doing the math…

hot sun + river water + crowd + the good shit + bad decisions = NAKED PEOPLE

Of course when all of those things come together, hilarity soon follows.  Like the naked people who shouldn’t be and who didn’t use sunblock, because it may not have been invented yet.  Because it was 1979.  Or the countless drunks falling off of their rafts.  Luckily, the Chattahoochee is fairly shallow and full of rocks for a body to wash up on.  There was only actually 1 drowning ever associated with the race…and it happened the day before in 1980.  However, those river bed conditions also lead to a lot of stuck floats, falling apart and overturned floats, and even the occasionally abandoned float, like the aforementioned piano.

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Sadly, like all the coolest stuff from the 1970s, the Ramblin’ Raft Race had an end date of 1980.  We can thank the square Carter brother, Jimmy, for that.  In 1978 Jimmy signed a bill creating the Chattahoochee National Recreation Area which was the death knell for what could later be called the White Wet Freaknik.  A lot of people falsely believe that the environmental impact the race had on the river played a part in its demise.  Not true.  Actually, the river was just fine, it was all of the spectators trampling the banks that posed the most damage.  The AJC reported in 1980 that, “new management took over, and before long the feds were openly fretting about controlling the ‘thousands of beer-swilling, dope-smoking rafters’.” If Jimmy wasn’t amused by the

ways of his far cooler little brother Billy, he certainly wasn’t charmed by the patrons of the Ramblin’ Raft Race. I still think that just like Jimmy couldn’t be happy for and endorse the greatness that was his brother’s Billy Beer, he couldn’t allow his home state’s Ramblin’ Raft Race’s greatness to continue either.  

 *I have another floppy wiener on the river story from 1988 that involves ditching school and a Laura Ashley petticoat .  It can be better told my my friend, Kiersten.  She has sound effects.  How many floppy wiener river stories do you have?

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Statistical sore spot

6 Mar

syphilis-300x247

The Centers for Disease Control just released data that my home state of Georgia ranks fourth, nation wide, in reported cases of Syphilis. What a dubious title. Apparently, 7 out of every 100,000 residents find themselves with festering mucus membrane lesions. Ewww! Having watched my fair share of The Bachelor, I just assumed that a single swipe from the residence hot tub would have secured California for top honors in the Syphilis Awards. Somehow California showed up for eighth place. Well, we know what happens when one assumes, right? It turns out that all contestants are tested for STDs and the house plus “Fantasy Suite” are fully stocked with condoms at all times. Ewww number two.

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However, it actually makes more sense that our nation’s capital city, Washington D.C. “came” in first place with 27.7 people per 100,000 infected. Turns out that they indiscriminately screw more than just the economy around Capitol Hill. But, we already knew that, didn’t we?

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What is truly a shocker is that the pride of North Amereica, Florida, did not register in the top five. I know! This is such a head scratcher, considering the stories of true romantic love that the AP routinely reports on from the sunshine state.

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Did you hear about the Weeki Wachee couple that landed in central booking on a recent Monday morning? Swingers Tina Norris (39) and her beau, James Barfield (56), graciously hosted an impromptu orgy in their home. Invited were two men, another woman or two, but NOT their roommate, for fun, games and a boat load of drinks on Sunday evening. (This blogger wouldn’t be shocked to learn that bath salts were also in attendance) It’s the Florida way. Things boiled up when the host and hostess made eye contact and didn’t like the way the other was getting on with the guests. Specifically, James didn’t like Tina tag-teaming the men and Tina didn’t appreciate having to see James sexing up the other chick. Tempers flared and a naked rumble from one end of the house to the other left scratches, bruises, bloody lips, busted furniture and broken dreams in its wake. Sounds like someone forgot the safe word and to never make eye contact. The guests did the skedaddle as Tina and James continued to brawl. The sleeping roommate awoke and called the po-po before trying to peel Norris off of Barfield. Arrests were made to the nude and combative couple at 6am.

According to the CDC,

“The surest way to avoid transmission of sexually transmitted diseases, including syphilis, is to abstain from sexual contact or to be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested and is known to be uninfected.”

Consider this my Public Service Announcement for 2013.  The more you know.

Do you love Black History Month?

27 Feb

The old adage says that March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.  Well, that remains to be seen.  What I do know is that February is just about played out, which means that Black History Month is fixing to close up shop for 2013.

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Black History Month began as a Negro History Week way, way back in the 1920’s.  Then, during our country’s bicentennial year, 1976, President Gerald Ford said, “Aw, hell.  As long as we’re celebrating all this making of America shit, let’s make Negro History Week a whole month and quit calling it Negro…sounds too much like nigger.”*  And so it was in motion that each February we would set forth to acknowledge the contributions and accomplishments of the African Diaspora.

Don Cornelius (1936-2012): Dick Clark's brother from anotha motha

Don Cornelius (1936-2012): Dick Clark’s brother from anotha mutha

During the 1970’s the most obvious uptick in black awareness took place in popular culture, and nowhere was it more accessible to a li’l Hot Damn than on the tube.  TV shows like Sanford and Son, The Jeffersons and Good Times were mainstream fare.  On Sunday afternoons the only thing on TV to watch was Soul Train (you MUST click this link!), dotted with commercials for Afro Sheen.  Based on the later, I figured that all black teenagers were happy-go-lucky Negros that dressed funny and who, more than anything, liked nothing better than to smile, sing and dance for the man.  This notion continued into the 1980’s with must-see t.v. Diff’rent Strokes and Webster, shows where stuffy white people’s lives were greatly enriched by adopting plucky, yet stunted, black kids.  Although there was that one time they showed Roots, but that was during the school week.

That's Atlanta's own Nipsy Russell on the far right

That’s Atlanta’s own Nipsy Russell on the far right

And in cinema there was much ado about “all black ensemble” movies.  That’s cool and all.  Who can’t dig on Shaft?  And where would Quentin Tarantino be without the muse of Foxy Brown or Cleopatra Jones???  But there was a weird movement to release “black” versions of “white” movies.  You may remember Michael Jackson’s acting in The Wiz, co-starring Diana Ross, or the reimagining of Cinderella into the urban Cindy.  In this version, Cindy is too ghetto to have a glass slipper and instead loses her dirty sneaker.   I’d be pissed if I was a black chick…just sayin’.  There was also  Blacula, Blackenstein, The Black God Father and Black Shampoo to only name a few.  Of course this trend continues today, with the recent black version of Steel Magnolias with Queen Latifah and the just announced new Annie with little Quvenzhané Wallis revising the lead role of the loveable ginger-haired, freckle-faced Annie.  I think about how African-Americans would feel if we turned the tables on their art, but then I remember that “we” have Vanilla Ice.

I was also acutely aware of the Negro College Fund along with Ebony and Jet magazines, which I thought of as being like the Thunderbolt Newsletter for black folk.  But it seems like it’s really happened more in recent times that Black History Month is actually about more than Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech, working together or that George Washington Carver invented peanut butter…btw, something that I can’t believe the hysterical hippie-white women that run the Peanut Allergy Police Squad haven’t jumped on and vilified.

Soul shake 2013!

Soul shake 2013!

I live in Atlanta, which I think is kinda like ground zero for black history.  We are home to scads of historically black colleges, many civil-rights leaders, and several music legends (and rappers…ugh!) while boasting big-city credibility. During this past month our city made a point to participate in a day of service to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. plus Atlantans have been enjoying seeking out gallery showcases of specifically African-American artists, taking walking and eating tours of the Sweet Auburn district, sitting in on museum lectures, strolling educational exhibits, visiting jazz festivals, listening at literary events at the Margaret Mitchell house, praising in gospel choir concerts and clapping at dance theaters.  Oh, and then there was the Bronner Brothers International Fantasy Hair Show

This is how Atlanta celebrates BHM

This is how Atlanta really celebrates BHM

I think that this picture really tells you everything you need to know about how far we have come with our civil relations.  There’s no way this could have happened in 1953.  I mean, three of those cheerleaders are brunettes!

* This may not have been an exact quote

And, what in the hell is “Black Love”?  Anyone?  Do black people have a special kind of secret love that whitey can’t get in on?

University drops smoking

7 Jan

Atlanta’s own Emory University had an announcement to make this week:  No Smoking Allowed.  Anywhere.  Not in campus buildings, dorms, outside of the library, not in a box next to a fox, or even in your own car with all of the windows rolled up.  Huh.  All tobacco products are banned from any place on campus.  This means cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, pipes, hookahs and bongs.  What is college without bongs???  I don’t know this world anymore.  Maybe this is why so many “online universities” are popping up.

I am presently not a smoker, but I used to be pretty hardcore.  I am seventeen years “clean”.  And that is a good thing now, but at the time I thought quitting was a power play and a hassle.  It’s like this: when Big Daddy and I started dating he would light my ciggies for me and was all gentlemanly about carrying a lighter in his pocket for my igniting needs.  Then things started getting serious and the hammer dropped: “I can’t marry a smoker.  You have to quit.”  Like a real woman, I recognized that if it’s a contest between always having a date who wants to give me jewelry and tagging a butt outside of a bar with a bunch of weirdoes, then I’ll take the former.  Done.

The saying isn't "Cigarettes are a girl's best friend" now, is it?

It was in the early 1990s that the tobacco Gestapo rose through the ranks and started messing with me.  It started with no longer allowing smoking on airplanes.  Before a 27-hour flight to Korea, I found my self in the glass enclosed smoke pit it the airport power smoking with the best of them.  Next came to eliminating a restaurant hostess’ most important question: “Smoking or non-smoking section?”, to no smoking in restaurants period.  And that extended to mall food courts, too.  Never again would I smell a group of pale, Goth teens sucking on clove cigarettes while enjoying an Orange Julius.  The lovably cool Joe Camel was crucified and Marlboro points were moot.  Really, Big Daddy’s decree was rather timely, because the other Man was taking away all the freedom of smoking anyway.  I imagine this is how motorcycle enthusiasts felt when states began enforcing helmet laws.  Sure, the Man was looking out for the people’s “health”, but it was also draping a wet wool blanket on the joy.

So hard?

“They” say the quitting smoking is harder than weaning off of heroine.  Having never snorted, shot, smoked or anything else one can do with that stuff, I couldn’t say if this is true or not.  But it was my fear.  Thus, I had never before tried to quit, never wanted to and frankly didn’t see a reason.  My only experience with someone quitting smoking was with my step-dad, Tom.  And that was a doozy.

Let’s back up a bit.  I come from a long and rich line of smokers.  My parents smoked.  Their friends all smoked.  My aunts, uncles and cousins smoked.  In every public room of my house, there was a silver box or beautiful little julep cup full of Vantage 100s waiting to be smoked.  Every room had at least two fancy Waterford ashtrays.  This, by the way, isn’t a sign of growing up in a trailer park…this was classy, abundant and gracious living.  At the grocery store, buggies had clip-on aluminum ashtrays for housewives that liked to puff a cigarillo as they trolled the cereal aisle and thumped the produce.  Large canister ashtrays were in every department store.  And the “better” stores, like Neiman Marcus, would bring you a glass of wine and a beanbag ashtray for your Mom to the dressing room.  We had a huge basket at home of all of the different embellished matchbooks that we would collect from restaurants, banks, hotels…anywhere.  And lots of places also had their own logoed ashtrays.  We took a lot of those too.  It was a golden era.

See that ciggie wand. It's high-style!

Now, back to Tom.  At some point, maybe around 1986, Tom had a sketchy lung x-ray that turned out to be fine, but he was all shook up and he cold turkey quit smoking.  Never in the history of ex-smokers has there been a more smug and self-congratulatory ex-smoker.  Tom took every opportunity to wax on and on about his will power and discipline.  We just all rolled our eyes and closed our ears.  Fast-forward to the spring of 1989ish, when he travelled to Texas to see his middle son graduate from college.  Upon his return home, Tom was fidgety, restless and seemed to have developed a case of adult onset ADD.  The man had chronic ants in his pants and was using a stream of flimsy excuses to get the hell out of the house all of the time.  He kept every car’s gas tank topped off, bought every single size drill bit, one at a time, from Home Depot.  He picked up dry cleaning, ran nonsensical errands and was continually shaking the change in his pockets.  There was no doubt in my mother’s suspicious mind that Tom had rekindled love with his ex-wife while at their son’s graduation.  We assumed that he was really going out to call his former wife and whisper sweet nothings from the Gulf station’s pay phone…hence all the coin jiggling.  Mom hired a P.I. to tail him.  Tom wasn’t romancing his former yellow rose of Texas.  He was smooching on the filter of a cigarette.

Pretty little cancer sticks

 Because Tom had been such a pain in the ass and gloated so much about his dynamic power to just quit, he was unable to admit that he had begun not just smoking again, but making up for lost time.  When confronted, he denied, denied, denied.  “Catch Tom In The Act” became a fun family game.  When I uncovered two cartons of Vantages in the pool pump house, he blamed it on the next-door neighbor’s 12 year-old son.  If I was at the house and he would declare he was going to buy some wood screws, I would insist on going to Home Depot for some mythical need too, just for fun and to watch his squirm.  Because we worked together at a chemical plant, I would run up to the warehouse overlook window to spy him huddled behind a 20 ft. tall pallet tower of bleach boxes…smoking.  One time, unbeknownst to Tom, I was behind him on Powers Ferry Rd.  when he tossed a spent butt out of his car window and it landed on the hood of my car.  Swear.  In Hawaii, my oldest stepbrother, also named Tom, busted him smoking an Eve 120, snaked from Mother’s pack.  It was a new low.  Eve 120 cigarettes are super long, ultra-thin cigarettes decorated with flowers along the filter.  My macho, manly, retired Air Force fighter pilot Dad was hiding out with pretty, pretty lady cigarettes.  It turns out that the graduating stepbrother…hadn’t.  He hadn’t even gone to most of college.  Poor, disappointed Tom was too embarrassed to tell my Mom, who most certainly would have had lots to say about it.  Instead, he turned to his old pal, tobacco.  We were just relieved he wasn’t having an affair with the ex.  We thought it was kind of a hoot, but he remained ashamed of his smoking habit until he died years later.  While it was openly known he was smoking, he never did smoke again in public.  His pride just couldn’t have handled it.

My own bout with smoking cessation?  Well, my motivation was…motivating.  It took me about three days. As this post has already grown into a novella, I’ll save that funny story for another time.  However, I will say that if stopping is harder than kicking heroine, then I think all of those scabby, shaky, puking black-tar junkies are a bunch of lightweights.  I have no respect for them.  Losers.

I’ll wrap it up with this little thought nugget.  I have one friend who still smokes, but she’s cut waaay back.  I have one aunt and two cousins who are still smokers.  You can no longer smoke at work, at the grocery store, while pumping gas, at your favorite restaurant, anywhere in the airport and now, with Emory’s decree, there is a precedent to prevent smoking while enclosed in your own private property.  And the cost of a pack of cigarettes is out of hand.  Do I think it’s “good” that people aren’t smoking anymore?  Yep.  I feel much better, though I didn’t realize I even felt bad.  My kids are totally freaked and obnoxious when they see or smell someone smoking.  But, I have to wonder if some of our country’s employment shift and woes can’t be tied to the vigilante lynching of our tobacco industry.  What are all of those former tobacco farmers growing now?  Corn for corn syrup?  All of the matchbook factories, ashtray fabricators and rolling plants…what has become of them and their employees?  How about the person whose job it was to remove dead smokes from the big, commercial ashtray canisters and then refills them with fresh sand to imprint the hotel’s logo into it?  I just have to wonder if while the end of smoking is good for us, has it been bad for our economic health.  Someone get me an impact study, stat!

Maybe they can get jobs at the smokeless cigarette kiosk at the mall?

Coasting through reading rewards

17 Aug

My son read a lot of books last year and was rewarded with a “free” ticket to Six Flags.  This was neither a reward nor free for me.  As a kid, I loooved Six Flags.  I couldn’t get there enough and even had a season’s pass.  By age eleven, my mother would drop me off alone at the gates before lunch with a crisp $20 and pick me up during the fireworks just before closing.  But, I haven’t “done” the park since I was nineteen and had no desire to ever revisit it.  Big Daddy was adamant in his refusal to be the parent to take Hot Tub to redeem his award and celebrate his literacy.  Snake Bite is terrified of “anything carnival”, so it was up to me alone to dust off my Mother of the Year sash and be “fun mommy” for the day.  I knew that Buford the Buzzard was no more, but what else would be different?  And, mon dieu, what would be the same?

There was no Great Gasp, no Highland Swing, no Drunken Barrells nor Jolly Rogers Island…R.I.P.  The Chevy Show, Dolphin show and petting zoo…buh-bye.  The Hanson Cars had moved.  Skee ball at every turn?  Nope.  And while I saw no one walking an invisible dog, I did see a few kids on leashes.  Squirm.  Free Fall was replaced with a diabolical contraption that had me breaking my rule about not praying in public.  No, it wasn’t the same at all.  And that isn’t a bad thing.  And most of the artifacts that I was familiar with, had been updated in someway.

In 1978, The Mind Bender was THE new ride.  You stood in line forever, avoiding being pushed into “the gum tree” that was most certainly a breeding ground for all strains of hepatitis.  And for what?  To be thrust along some rickety sounding rails that flipped you upside down three times.  Now there are lots of roller coasters that go upside down and The Mind Bender seems a little retro.  And the gum tree?  They now swathe and staple the trees in a burlap condom, and when it is full of sticky, gnat pocked infected gum, they just take it off and put on a new one.  A new trend has also emerged with gumming the landscape boulders as well.  I’m not sure how that’s going to play out.

It blew my mind though that with all of the advances in rollercoaster building and amusement engineering, the bumper cars are still as unreliable and junky as they were in the 1970s.  Technology has by-passed them.  They still get stuck, having to be manually unstuck, and are still powered by a flat piece of metal rubbing and snagging along the bottom of a volted chicken wire ceiling.  I thought that for sure by now they would have been able to get the kinks worked out of that.  Six Flags has tried to keep up with the times and be respectable.  The park now has a “code of conduct” that does not allow smoking outside of dedicated corners and even purports to ask patrons to leave if they are using loud profanity.  It seems a bit unlikely, but it was quite a nice change to not be standing in line with hickey coated teenagers with dangling cigarettes from their lips while screaming the f-word, s-word, or any other words that would have made my grandmother blush.  So while that turned out to be a non-issue, I did have to explain the verbage on a lot of neck tattoos.

And Six Flags also says that they have “healthy choices” for park goers’ dining options.  For lunch we went to Dee Jay’s, one of the restaurants tagged as having “healthy choices.”  I couldn’t actually figure out what the “healthy choice” was.  I think it was the “fried chicken tender salad” that I got.  It was three large fried chicken fillets on iceberg lettuce with four cherry tomatoes, carrot slivers and two packets of Ranch dressing that each had 17g of fat apiece.  My other options were bleu cheese or Italian.

Being respectable and healthy has gotten the park on the roll to adopt a more natural look.  For instance, that water that used to course through all to the flume rides and ponds…remember it was the aqua blue color of your high school head cheerleader’s eye contacts (that she insisted were her real eye color).  Well, it’s been ditched in favor of normal-color water.  And they are trying to recycle…starting with the staff wearing collared shirts made out of melted plastic fabric.  Signs were posted about their low flow toilets and hand dryers replacing towels in the restrooms.  I’m all for conservation, but I just don’t think that low-flow is the way to go in a park full of out-of shape patrons who’ve been eating funnel cakes and hot dogs in 97 degree heat.  Thoughts?

So, I rode every roller coaster the boy wanted to ride.  I got soaked in Thunder River.  I stood in lines that harkened to Soviet Russia bread distribution.  I bought $9 diluted lemonade.  I cheered as the boy won a basketball.  I finished off a bottle of hand sanitizer.  I ate things that probably wouldn’t decompose if left in a forest for a year.  And on the way home, R.E.M.’s “Everybody Hurts” was playing on the radio.  I had always thought that was a song aimed at disgruntled teens about getting through uphill battles and feeling kicked around by the man.  It’s not.  I am pretty sure Bill Berry or Michael Stipe wrote if after turning forty and being jostled on roller coasters.  The “hold on” refrain is a reference not to perseverance, but to actually holding on to ice packs and stair railings.

 

 

Scenesters get old-school, or just get old

5 Jul

When Hot Damn was in high school, we didn’t have hipsters.  There were dweebs, jocks, nerds, hoods, mallrats, punks, new-wavers, skaters, pot-heads, juvies, rivet-heads, brown-nosers, homos, band-dorks, theater people, scenesters, campers, girls that took The Cure way too seriously and so on.  But, no hipsters.  They hadn’t been born yet.  I’m not exactly sure where I fit on the scale of labels and teenage coolness.  It’s not that I consider myself without definition; more likely it is that I kind of embraced bits and pieces of them all, floating in a social abyss.

One thing I was into was the “music scene” and so I knew a lot of scenesters.  I listened to low-dial college stations, hung out in record stores, made themed mixed tapes, read Maximum Rock n’ Roll and snuck into clubs to see bands.  A lot.  I don’t think I ever copped a beer; I just wanted to hear the music.  My parents thought that I saw Top Gun like every weekend; they were not so okay with me slinking around downtown at night.  Can’t imagine why.  Growing up in Atlanta, there was no shortage of music venues that looked the other way when it came to minor patronage.  The Metroplex, White Dot, 688, Royal Peacock, Dugout, Atlantan Hotel, Margaritaville, The Point, and Celebrity Club all had slack doormen and great music every weekend.  I saw a bunch of great shows at Georgia Tech, Emory and Piedmont Park, too.  Last Husker Du show?  Saw it.  Ditto for The Replacements.  Drivin’ n’ Cryin’ at a burrito shack?  REM at Piedmont Park?  The early version of The Black Crowes in a basement?  Sitting on stage with the Smithereens?  Check them all and then some.  It was good times.

A favorite band from that era, Guadalcanal Diary, had a pearl anniversary reunion show this past weekend.  (They played that cannibal song!)  Going to the show I expected to see a bunch of throwbacks and familiar faces from way back when.  Well, it turns out that aging scenesters…age.  They are virtually unrecognizable.  Their hair turns grey (if they still have it), their clothes get all practical and store-bought, and they have traded in pointy boots for a comfy pair of Merrells.  It’s also mainly old dudes, not old chicks, who turn out for reunion shows.  But if the music still rocks and the beer is cold, it’s all good.  And it was.  Except that it was hot, and we were sore from yard-work and had stuff to do the next morning.  As we were leaving a tad early, a guy looks at Big Daddy and says, “Hey, don’t I know you…from Cub Scouts?”  Cover blown.

You know, Big Daddy and I actually still go out and see our fair share of bands.  We are usually the older people toe-tapping in the middle, surrounded by young hipsters.  Aside from the skinny jeans, 1970s women’s sunglasses and ironic t-shirts, the hipsters aren’t all that different from the aging scenesters.  Well, except that the hipsters all have tattoos and piercings; the pearly scenesters have nicotine patches and wedding bands.

Get fired up for work

16 May

Just say "No, thank you"

Just when I began middle school, First Lady Nancy Reagan began her “Just Say No” campaign.  It was a movement directed at young children to teach them about the dangers of drug use and to emotionally inoculate them from ever getting into a situation where they learned about shake, aqua pipes or felt any desire to sway in the PhilZone.  To hammer in her point, Mrs. Reagan even appeared in a “very special episode” of Diff’rent Strokes, during season 5, to tell America’s youngsters how to decline invitations for the evil weed, PCP, LSD and anything else stronger than a St. Joseph’s baby aspirin.

Up until this point I don’t ever really recall there being any sort of anti-drug message out there other than my Grandfather loading us into his Cadillac to drive down 10th Street and then past Pershing Point to look at the hippies and scoff.   That all soon changed when The Partnership for a Drug Free America got together and rolled out the “This is your brain on drugs…” series of p.s.a. commercials.

Big Daddy and I still make fun of another one where the militant dad is demanding to know where his surly teen learned about marijuana and how he came to have a cigar box full of purple kush in his closet.  The kid finally snaps and says; “You, alright.  I learned it by watching you!!!”  Oooh, burn.

But my favorite was one with a couple of burners in their twenties hanging out in a basement playing Sega and toking on a fatty while talking about how cool things have turned out for them.  Then the voice of a disappointed mother is heard calling down the stairs asking if they had looked for a job while she was at work.  The message is that hanging out and getting high will get you nowhere good.  You will forever live in your parents’ basement and won’t get a job.  Well, not so fast…

Will there be a drug test for this job?

Potheads can now officially tell The Man to “suck it”, because their discerning skills and marginal talents are now in demand. That’s right.  It’s payday for anyone with a Ph.D in THC.   For every uptight parent who told their kids that “businesses don’t hire burn-outs and stoners”…suck it.  For every coach who said “losers can’t be winners in the game of life”…suck it.  And for every fast food assistant manager who said “you can’t get by, while you’re getting high”…suck it.  Arizona has legalized marijuana use for people living with illness, chronic pain, discomfort or the Cheech and Chong box set.  That actually covers a lot of folks and they are going to need some guidance as they navigate this new world of medicinal marijuana.  Enter the Tucson Weekly, who has posted a job opening ad for a freelance marijuana critic.  Dude!!!  Paper editor Jimmy Boegle said:

“A lot of sick people are going to be using medical marijuana and they’re going to want to know things like how is it to park, how good is the stuff they’re selling in terms of helping them with their symptoms.  What are the prices, what kinds of things are offered”

I am thinking readers will also need to know other pertinent information like which pizza delivery pairs best with Kentucky Gold, what movie to watch on mute while listening to Pink Floyd’s Darkside of the Moon or whether it’s cool to answer the phone.

Not to write too stoned an article

Applicants have until June 1st to motivate out of the La-Z-Boy and send in a resume and application.

Nothing says “Guilty!” like a killer pair of eyeglasses

11 May

During the early months of our courting, Big Daddy would throw me the side-eye whenever we would be out and I would motion to some dude with my head and say, under my breath, “He looks like a rapist”.  Or “He looks like a molester”.  Or worse, “He looks like a serial killer”.   I know that a lot of people, especially the ultra-bed-wetting liberal sort, think that profiling is somehow bad or wrong.  They are wrong.  I am right.  Always.  Well, most of the time.

Nightly news

Growing up in Atlanta, one of the hallmarks of my childhood was the acute awareness of Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered Children.  Kids, mostly black boys, started disappearing in the summer before fourth grade.  They would later turn up dead, their bodies dumped in the Chattahoochee River.  The community was paralyzed by fear and uncertainty.  Curfews were issued.  Every afternoon and into the evening there would be an announcement on the television or radio that would ask something like, “It’s seven o’clock.  Do you know where your kids are?”  Terrifying.  I would shake like a chihuahua when anyone I didn’t know spoke to me on the street.  By the next summer there had been thirty victims that were linked in one way or another to a single killer.  Police and psychologists gathered information about victims and meshed it with geographic, demographic and psychological features they believed would be significant markers in revealing who this sadist was.  We now call this criminal profiling, and it is good.  Using the profile, Wayne Williams was arrested and convicted.   This particular case was the first well-publicized instance of criminal profiling being used successfully.

A lot of naysayers out there think that the fix was in.  There’s all sorts of conspiracy theories about how The Man used Williams to alleviate public pressure, that the decedents were actually victims of satanic rituals performed by local covens or that the killings were carried out by area Ku Klux Klansmen to initiate a race war.  Gimme a break.  Every thing that I need to know about Williams’ guilt is in this picture.

It’s the glasses.  All the creepy dudes have them.   If I were a judge and a defendant came into court with a pair of these on I’d dismiss the jury and just move on to sentencing.  Check out my evidence:

BTK Killer Dennis Rader

Boy eater Jeffrey Dahmer

Why, is that Kim Jong Il behind those Foster Grants?

Even Hollywood knows that to authenticate a seriously warped character, the props department has to make a run to Lens Crafters.  Did you see Robin Williams in One Hour Photo?  Two words.  Heebie.  Jeebies.

Character development with eye wear

You know how there’s that Sex Offender Registry?  You can go online and type in your zip code and get a map of your neighborhood that pinpoints where all the diddlers and freaks live so you can avoid letting your Cub Scout sell popcorn unchaperoned on that street.  This service was especially comforting when JonBenet Ramsey killer-wannabe, John Mark Karr, lived less that two miles down the road. If law enforcement were really serious about halting sex crimes they would start tracking the purchase of gold wire kinda aviator-ish specs.  There would be a Molester Glasses Registry.  And if the registrant had any sort of scant or patchy facial hair, they’d have to register twice.

Waco wacko David Koresh

The Wonderful World of Sid & Marty Krofft: a craptacular fail

18 Apr

Not too long ago I was listening to the Adam Carolla podcast with guest Dana Gould.  Apparently, Dana had been working on a screenplay for Sigmund and the Sea Monsters.  Mercifully, it got canned.  I mean, bad for Dana and all that, but it’s for the greater good.  Most likely last summer’s turd blossom, the big screen adaptation of Land of the Lost, can take the lion’s share of credit for ruining the chances of Gould’s work ever seeing light.  However, hearing about that crapfest got me to thinking about an obscure footnote in Atlanta history and in my own childhood.

One of a kind in Atlantas Omni

When I was five I discovered the magic of shows like the above mentioned in addition to Dr. Shrinker, H.R. Pufnstuf, Electra Woman and Dyna Girl.  They are all “from the creative minds” of puppeteer brothers, Sid and Marty Krofft.  Having my own children now, I know all too well that kids will watch anything that’s on TV.  Five year olds have neither taste nor discrimination.  Because of that whole “lots of brothers and the one television” situation at my house, I had these beloved Krofft shows put on ice.  Those boys usurped my getting to the TV first by simply telling my mother that all of the Krofft shows were drug culture propaganda disguised as childrens programming.  Maybe so.  I was crushed.  In retrospect, it was a brilliant ploy by the brothers.  But, I was going to be getting an opportunity to expose my parents to, and thus persuade them of, the awesomeness of all that was Krofft.  I’d make them see and then they would know!

A complex map

The year of 1976 is not only notable in U.S. history as the bicentennial of our great country; it also marks the year that The Wonderful World of Sid & Marty Krofft came to Atlanta and took up residence inside of downtown’s Omni International.   It was an indoor, vertical, psychedelic theme park that was dreamed up and designed by the brothers Krofft after their great success with creating and implementing shows and rides at Six Flags Over Georgia.  I spent weeks begging, performing perfunctory chores and dutifully brown nosing until my keepers agreed to take me to my Mecca as a birthday outing.  I would have done anything and given anything up to go.

Harlequin head

It was beyond anything that I could have expected…because it sucked!  Hard! Aside from listening to Mom and Dad chant “waste of money” over and over, it was not good…and at six, even I knew it.  It started out pretty great, riding a huge, world-record-breakingly tall escalator to the top of the park and being greeted by a pair of giant clown heads…and then it fell apart.

There was no shortage of weird talking trees and character people walking around and dancing like they were at a Dead show looking for a miracle, which only gelled my mother’s belief that everyone associated with the Kroffts was “on pot or glue”.

"Clearly on drugs," according to my mother

I was most looking forward to the crystal carousel.  It was a transparent, three-story merry-go-round made of imagined beasts, crystal trees and it was going to change my life.   Yeah, it was closed for repair.  Not only was it not operating, but also there was a barrier around it, so you couldn’t even get that close to it to see all of the wonder.  “I can’t believe we paid for this; what a waste of money.”

Pinball ride...Im sure it was a metaphor...for DRUGS

Even though the carousel was a bust, at least we could go on the pinball ride that was down a level or two.  Think of a huge pinball machine and you are in an orb bouncing from side to side and against big bumpers.  That’s totally cool, right?  It’s not especially cool when that ride breaks about 15ft. into it and gets shut down and you have to crawl out of the ball and walk off of the platform.  “What a waste of money”.  Again.

A family ejecting from the pinball

We did see a “show” that at least gave my folks a chance to sit down and tag a butt or two.  That worked out okay for me.  Things were starting to look up and I was pretty sure that I’d be watching Wonderbug at home again in no time.  Not so fast.

Our next station was the bottom level of the park and I was really excited.  This was where all the H.R. Pufnstuf stuff was going to be.  It was called “The Living Island”.  It was purported to be the real meat and potatoes of the whole experience and we were saving it for last.  To get there, you got on a big freight elevator that was meant to simulate being in a mineshaft.  Did you know that my birthday is the last day of August?  That means it’s hot.  Seasonally, this is not a time when you want to get stuck on an elevator.  For about ninety minutes I got to listen to lots of grown-ups muttering my parents mantra, “Such a waste of money.  I want my money back.”  And for the duration, between the bellyaching of bitching parents and disgruntled guests, I could hear the cackle of Witchiepoo and the sounds of shipwrecked Jimmy and his flute Freddy having adventures.

They haunt my daydreams

And I was stuck in a fucking fake mineshaft.  Once we were finally freed from the elevator we were given vouchers to return to the park as an apology.  We never made it into “The Living Island”.  My parents were pissed and it was over.  They practically dislocated my shoulder jerking me out of there.  I like to daydream in my head that it would have been just like Bob Odenkirk and David Cross’ rendition that you can see here.

In a cruel twist, the brothers that came with us and ditched us the moment we got there…had a blast.

And, on a side note, and this will surprise you…The Wonderful World of Sid & Marty Krofft closed within six months of opening.  In 20/20 hindsight it was a bad idea to open a theme park with four rides that don’t operate reliably in the middle of what used to be the scariest city ever.  The space is now part of the CNN complex and all that remains is that tall-assed escalator.  People were so pissed by that debacle that next to nothing has survived.  When the doors were shut they stayed that way and eventually it was all just demo.ed and put in the trash.  Where it belonged.

Skylarking

5 Apr

Get packing!

This past Saturday, Big Daddy decided that we needed to get prepared for our upcoming family trip.  That is happening in June.  Whatever.  The first bullet on the list was luggage.  What do we have?  Who’s taking what?  What are we checking?  Carrying on?  And yadda, yaddda, yadda.  This type of minutia is beyond tedious for me, especially double-digit weeks out from departure.  Oh, well.  In marriage, we humor one another and compromise all the way to the finish line.

Who knew that the luggage inventory would make Snakebite cry instead of me?  Apparently, we are raising a new-millennium Veruca Salt.  She began weeping that she thought the cruise was only twelve days, and WTH is this business about packing for eighteen days.  And then the statement that rocked our Saturday got vomited out between gulps and gasps…, “But, I don’t want to go to Europe, again.”  Where. Have. We. Gone. Wrong?  Am I raising a “me-me-me monster” by giving kick ass opportunities, or am I just dragging my poor kids into my own wanderlust and expecting them to be thrilled at how lucky they are and how they won the parental jackpot?  Is that so hard to get on board with???

Da plane! Da plane!

In earlier blogs, I have discussed how we stuffed a juvenile militia in a ‘wagon and rolled our happy asses down to Daytona Beach.  Granted, I did get to go on some pretty great trips before I ever got a high school diploma, but I also got left home.  A lot.  My Mom and Step-dad, Carolyn and Tom to you, belonged to this group called The Skylarks, here in Atlanta.  Basically, it was like having a part-share in a Boeing-720.   It was better than any country club.  For parents.  The Skylarks flew to Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda at least a couple of times a month.  This group, would never be allowed today, because you just showed up and went.  Sometimes they would have “mystery” trips.  You’d call in a couple of days ahead of time and get the packing list.  It was on your descent that the captain would announce where you were landing.

My first trip out of the country was a Skylark’s trip Curacao.  The plane was like having a secret access pass to a nightclub.  Everyone knew each other and was loaded by the time we landed.  My brother, Chris, and I still talk about that trip and what we did.  Chris was allowed to “casino” and won enough money to buy some YSL cologne at the duty-free shop.  On another Skylarks trip to the Bahamas, the brothers gave me Jim Carroll’s The Basket Ball Diaries and J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye to read while they ditched me at night and went to the resort clubs.  I was almost twelve.  The one time mom checked in at our room, she was pissed.  I later majored in Literature.  Who knew that being abandoned by skirt-chasing brothers would shape my academic future and influence me into a major that makes no money.

Vacation inclusion was not the norm.  Usually, us kids were secured at my Grandparent’s house.  It wasn’t the sort of multi-generational fantasy camp that most people think about when you say “Grandparent’s house”.  We didn’t bake cookies, go to the circus or play games together.  I don’t think they really liked kids all that much.  I always felt a bit jipped when we got picked up late Sunday afternoon by a couple of giddy, sunburned parents.  While my folks were swigging margaritas and dancing in a conga line on a beach, I was white knuckling it through episodes of Lawrence Welk, back-to-back Wild Kingdom and low-sodium meals.  So, now, as a parent, I take those kids everywhere!  I think that I’m doing the right thing, but… is this one of  t h o s e  things?

Will the real Veruca Salt please stand up?

One of those things is giving your kids something that you fantasized about growing up, only to have the shit disappointed out of them once they are out of college and off the parental dole.  I think it is probably a natural instinct to want to give your kids beyond what you think you had, be it material things, “quality time”, or just showering them with opportunities.  Give them too little; they’ll resent me.  Give them too much; they’ll still resent me.  Do nothing= still resentment.  I can’t win either in any scenario.  So we’re doing what I want to do. Because, really, it’s all about me.   And they’ll learn to get through it.

Wrastlin’

30 Mar

This weekend the WWE is bringing WrestleMania to Atlanta.  It’s been a while since we’ve bounced against the ropes in this town.  In fact, it was Black Saturday in 1984 when we saw our last good elbow drop.  There are all sorts of events tied together in this spectacular…there’s a charity golf tournament, a fan “experience” and even an auction of wrestler art at our Fabulous Fox. That last one kinda threw me, too.  There is going to be a new round of wrestlers inducted into the Hall of Fame with Abdullah the Butcher making the cut. 

Hall of Famer Abdullah the Butcher

Abdullah “The Madman from Sudan” the Butcher, who was really from Canada, was a regular with the GCW here back in the day. Grandma Hot Damn can get a little wistful thinking back on the glory days of Georgia Championship Wrestling.  That was before the state of Ohio conspired to take over our city and when wrestling was pronounced “wrastlin’”.  If you have a spare couple of hours to listen to someone giddily detail an era, ask any Southern man of a certain age about Mr. Wrestler II, Midnight Express, Tony Atlas,  or Ole Anderson.

My brothers loved to watch GCW on Ted Turner’s WTBS Superstation when we were kids.  Because it was the 1970s and we had one tv for kids, I also watched a lot of wrestling.  I got just as excited as my brothers did when we saw and met “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes, who kindly autographed every piece of paper we could dig out of my mother’s purse, while we were at a gate at the old Atlanta airport.  He had on light blue boot cut jeans, a tan leather jacket and stacked boots.  And of course, his hair was the color of maize.  He was larger than life, but not as large as he is now.

Champion Dusty Rhodes

You can’t talk about Dusty without having a conversation about “Nature Boy” Ric Flair.  Flair, later part of the evil Four Horsemen, dressed like a pimp from south Florida.  His bottle blonde locks were perfectly zipped and feathered, he always had on Foster Grants tuned to “sun”, some sort of suit and big gold jewelry, when he wasn’t in one of his fancy, custom robes.  For the Nature Boy though, it wasn’t just about looks, because “Whooooo!!!  To be The Man, you gotta beat The Man!!!”  Nature Boy was not modest.

Limousine ridin', jet flyin', kiss stealin', wheelin' dealin' son of a gun Ric Flair

I don’t know what the deal was with wrestlers and the peroxide, but “Wildfire” Tommy Rich must have gone to the same hair stylist as Ric and Dusty.  I like to think of them on an off day meeting up at the salon for a little process and trim then going out for a light lunch together afterward.

Breck model Tommy Rich

As a special treat, a love gift really, my mom took us to the GCW live taping a time or two.  Okay, I had to go because I wasn’t old enough to stay at home alone.  I don’t really know that this was the best place to take a child.  Forget what was going on in the ring with figure four leg locks, sleeper holds, bleeding, superplexes, and atomic drops.  The real action was the sideshow outside of the ring.  To this day, I am unsure whether the audience really thought the wrestling was real, but they sure were enthusiastic.  Fights regularly broke out ringside, with people attacking one another with metal folding chairs, shoes and belt buckles.  One time a guy next to us bawled my mom out for chuckling at the on stage antics.  Then there were certain wrestlers who were allegedly so hated that they needed police escort through the room to protect them from being pelted with cans of Billy Beer.  And an unforgettable sight was manager Jimmy Cornette, with his ever-present tennis racquet, getting into vein-popping shouting confrontations with the wrestlers, the refs, crowd members, girlfriends…whoever was within earshot.  And yet, Jimmy’s character was so upper-crust that we were supposed to believe that he only abandoned the clay courts at PDC for these matches.

This weekend’s WrestleMania is sparing no expense in making an impact in the town from which it sprouted.  It’s going to be hosted by The Rock, and Snooki is going to be here doing something for it, too.  What in the hell has happened to professional wrestling?  It’s not classy like it was in 1981, as seen here.

Get yur freak on

22 Mar

There are certain natural events that catapult cities and regions into a state of preparation and then scampering for cover.  Most recently, we saw our west coast evacuate populations to higher grounds in anticipation of tsunami waves riffing off of the earthquake in Japan.  Or, closer to home, around late August our friends in the Carolinas and the Gulf region batten down the hatches and juice up their generators whenever tropical storms begin swirling into cyclones off the coast.  But these precaution-inducing events aren’t always of the “force majeur” variety.  Since the early 1990s there is an event that sends land-locked Atlantans into absolute hysteria.  People either run for the hills, or hit the grocery store and Home Depot like there’s snow flurries to stay at home to defend their land, or at the very least, get some projects done around the house.

My first year back in Atlanta after college was 1993 and I was living on Peachtree Street.  On a Thursday night in April my friend Katie called to say there was a group heading to the mountains to escape “Freaknik”.  I had no idea what she was talking about and dismissed the hype that I was spewing out of her mouth.  After all, I was living in a city “too busy to hate” and I had a lot of stuff to get done.  So what if there were going to be some extra folk in town for the weekend?  I would be staying in place and taking my chances.  I WAS SO UNPREPARED!!!  It began with driving home from work on Friday and the bass thump that shook everything on my bookshelves didn’t stop until about 11pm Sunday night.  No lie.  The next year was just as hectic, the year after that I feared for my life at the gas station when I was verbally assaulted by a group of women.  Because I was a white chick pumping my own gas.  It made no sense.  And from stories that I heard from other friends, I didn’t see all that much.  A friend’s sister couldn’t get her baby to the emergency room because of abandoned cars on the street and people dancing.  My friend Chris got in a fist fight after he was dragged out of his car.  If you weren’t part of the Freaknik, you were in for a problem.

Just chillin' in the middle of the road

For those who don’t know what Freaknik is, here’s a primer.  It started as “Black College Spring Break” in the 1980s.  It was a sweet little picnic hosted by Atlanta University on the third weekend in April.  By the 1990s, unbeknownst to me…living out of town, it snowballed into what can only be called a cultural cluster-fuck.  Think back on “white” Spring Breaks spent at the beach…the cruising, the redneck locals who weren’t on any kind of college break, but were there anyway, the hunch punch parties, wet-t-shirt contests, all the people passed out on the beach.  Oh, I cringe.  It was beyond trashy.  Now, transfer that scene times three, paint it dark and add a healthy dose of hoopty cars,

And for all of the work done on these cars, none of them seemed to have mufflers

pimped out whips, the dawn of cam-corders, no beach for people to congregate or pass out on,

Behold...the beachless bathing beauties of Freaknik

Atlantans trying to get home from work and the only good strip for cruising being I-75.  Oh and gratuitous, public sexy time.  You know what I mean by sexy time.  It is so legendary that T-Pain produced Freaknik: The Musical for Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim.

I guess he flew in and didn't have a car

It must have been around 1999 when it finally fazizzled.  The city got involved and tried to inject positive, uplifting events and even went so far as to introduce a job fair into the mix.  A job fair?  For Spring Break?  Permits were issued.  It had the same effect as having your mother chaperone you and your friends to a Minor Threat show.  Um, not cool.  It moved to Daytona Beach and the local Volusia County government poured water on it and it died.

Must have t-shirt or 2011?

But…it’s almost April and that means that there are rumblings and suggestions that Freaknik is coming back.  A revival. Everything old can be new again.  Oh, Lawd! It has a new spelling, Freaknic, and there is buzz on Facebook and Twitter that it’s totally going to happen.   There’s even a website.  This happened last year, too.  Not much happened.  Atlanta City Officials are telling us to remain calm, however.  Freaknik/Freaknic organizers have not filed with the city for special event permits within the 30-day advance period, so we are safe.  ‘Cause everybody knows that mayhem, mellay and misdirection always asks permission first.  Whew!

Snow day

10 Jan

Chilly Gargoyle

We are having a snow day in Atlanta, y’all.  For reals.  Luckily, we have had several days to prepare for this oddity, each day with escalating hysteria.  At first it was going to be a couple of inches, then it jacked up to 8-10” with ice on top.  The current state at my house is 4” with sleet coming down now.  At least something has actually happened this time.  In years gone we have lost our marbles preparing for imminent blizzards (yes, that word passes over the lips of Atlanta meteorologists without a trace of sarcasm) only to have nothing to show for it but a low mercury line on the thermometer.  Personally, I have wondered if these snow day disappointments were really some sort of government conspiracy to help out grocers and hardware stores with sagging sales.

The last eggs in Atlanta...and two were cracked.

Like I said, there was a lot of time to prepare.  There seems to be a holy trinity of blizzard preparation in Atlanta: milk, eggs and bread.  Why?  Is there going to be a neighborhood French Toast eggstravaganza?  Is quiche the new comfort food in the same way that 50 is the new 40? When I went to the store (oh yes, I did!) I stocked up on limes and tonic.  This being Georgia, I knew to make the liquor store run on Friday.  No liquor sales here on Sunday!

I feel a little bit insulted watching the News sometimes, the way the newscasters feel like they must explain to me that ice makes roads slippery and difficult to drive on, that I should dress warmly if I go outside and that when snow melts, but then it gets below 32 degrees again, it will re-freeze.  Gosh, really? Like, I had no idea!  It also slays me that the News has messages for people whose power has gone out.  I’m sure that they would appreciate the shout, if they were actually able to use their television sets.   On a side note, are they even still called sets?

Have you enrolled yet?

My mother-in-law has turned me onto my new favorite inclement weather sport: watching the News crawl for the “creative” and “clever” names of area schools, churches and businesses.  Among my favorite “private schools” are: Angels in Progress Academy, Destined For Greatness Academy.  There is a slew of them that purposely misspell their names: Dozier’s Kiddie Kollege, Kidz Palace Learning Academy, Victorious Kidz Academey (they even misspelled academy), Wisekidz Learning Ctr.  I can’t imagine feeling okay writing a check to a kollege.  There is no shortage of schools that have the word Hope in them, too.  That gives me none.  Beauty schools tend to have top-notch names, like “International School of Skin”.

Amateur night

30 Dec

Happy New Year Everybody!

New Year’s Eve is the cosmos giving the world it’s own open-mic at the Improv.  It’s an annual event where everyone feels the pressure to be wild, wacky, dress like a slut/gigolo and create barf art the next morning.  It’s the ultimate Amateur Night, complete with goofy glasses and sparkly noise-making props.  Why?

My Militia was bigger than yours

Admittedly, I gave in and ran with the throng in my late teens and early 20s.  Atlantans, remember that national headline making New Year’s Eve 1988 soiree at the Marriott Marquis?  The one where furniture was thrown into the atrium, windows were broken, people got trampled, huge planters overturned and general hell broke loose?  Hot Damn was there; she remembers.  I fled the scene to go hang by the fireplace at Clarence Foster’s.  Children of the 1980’s, do you remember when we finally were able to fulfill Prince’s wish and “got to party like it’s 1999”?  I had a two year old and my mother had just died…I just wanted to sleep like it was 1970.  In more recent years we were locked and loaded for the big Y2K celebration.  We were stocked on liquor, pantry staples, jugs of filtered water, candles, paper calendars, batteries, firearms and ammunition.  I remember sitting on my deck with friends and when the stroke of midnight came, it also went without pause.  I mean, I’m glad I didn’t loose data or have to shoot someone trying to steal dogfood out of the garage, but it was mildly disappointing, at the least annoying, to not even have the lights flicker.

You can't get this view from the ground

Now that I am older, wiser and decidedly more lazy, we don’t go out on New Year’s Eve.  We’ve got nothing to prove, but we do have a kick ass deck and den.  We may have friends over and play games with the kids, but the main pull is watching Atlanta’s stellar attempt to compete with New York, London, Hong Kong and Sydney’s rich and lauded celebrations.  Atlanta has given us the “Peach Drop”.  The Peach Drop has it’s own web page filled with fun facts.  Here’s a fun fact: Hot Damn was at Underground Atlanta the first year this went down, in 1989.  I was terrified of getting shanked, so I bolted for Fat Tuesday’s.  The site states that this televised event is watched by millions of folks around the globe.  Say what?  Our tradition of watching safely from home has only been sweetened by the addition of a DVR, so that certain bits can be rewound or paused for closer inspection and catty commenting.  Like when the Peach didn’t drop in a fluid motion and jerked all the way down.  Or the year the headliner was so baked, we had to pause and make up funny imaginary dialog for him.

Really? The best we could get? Really?

Already, this year’s Peach Drop is shaping up to maybe be the most craptacular yet.  The headliner is host Katherine Jackson and son, Tito.  (You know Tito.  I couldn’t pick him out of a line up, but he has my almost favorite Jackson name.)  In addition to performing “soulful harmonies” of the Jackson 5, Tito will be kicking out some of his own original jams from his upcoming album.  This means that we won’t need to pause the TV for potty breaks and drink refills.  And there will be “other Jackson family members” present and celebrating, too.   I am praying that I will get a glimpse of Jermaine’s child, Jermajesty…who has the   b e s t  n a m e  e v e r !