Thursday, May 12, 2005

Atlanta: Those Ice Cubes in Your Shirt or are You happy to See Me?

...So I slid into Atlanta from VA without a hitch; I got a ride from one of my cousins and almost missed my flight out of Richmond "by this much" (to quote Maxwell Smart) which ordinarily would've been a massive hiccup but the checkout people were "country cool widdit" and checked my bags in PDQ. I zapped my home-piece from Hartsfield/ Jackson while the 737 sat in a parking lot of metal birds waiting for an empty gate. My first night in "Hot-lanta" was a mish mash of readjusting to the deep South's uber-humid climate (it get just as hot in L.A., but the mugginess makes you want to choke somebody) -- for shizzle (One could see why William Tecumseh Sherman got all "burn baby, burn" when he stormed through during the Civil War). As I'd mentioned in pieces before, the last neighborhood I lived in here was Little Five Points (henceforth L5P) but I was in for a rude awakening as things had definitely when through ch-ch-changes...and, in some instances, not for the better...

It seems that over the years L5P has been through shifts in gentrification and a grip of the old boutiques/ stores that I knew have been replaced and (surprise, surprise) less than a block from Junkman's Daughter was a pristine little Starbucks (surprise, surprise)... The storefront to the Bridgetown Grill was all boarded up and vacant, the building a ghostly shell of its former self. Man, did I have some fun in that place (walk-in fridges are not just for storing cucumbers and carrots, son)...Felini's pizza - gone, Sevananda (this co-op for fruit vendors) missing in action...but the Euclid Avenua Yacht Club, the Star Bar and Zesto's were still standing vigilant...when you leave a place for a stretch of time (any city for that matter) even the changes can still yield a touch of familiarity, it might be hard to grasp because in your mind's eye said locales are still envisioned as they were but there remains a modicum of the elan of a past you remember spending there. Such was not the case in L5P which had went through several shifts in gentrification and everthing, including the whole neighborhood vibe felt different.

Later still, K.V., with whom I used to play in that band Full Stop, took me over to "the new L5P," so to speak which is nestled over in East Atlanta - a very diverse neighborhood to be certain. Mr. Rogers would be happy 'round here -- that is if he could hang tight in a room filled to the rafters with second hand cigarette smoke while listening to the Ramones, Kraftwerk or Jame Brown blaring from a huge-ass silver juke box as heavily tattooed revelers pulled in and out on Vespas and and super-loud Harleys...he'd fit riiiight in. (You're going straight to hell for that little aside, boyo). We sucked down a couple of Lemon Drop shots and oat sodas at this funky little joint called The Earl which, if memory serves correctly is kind of like the bastard child of the E.A.Y.C., the Point and Smith's Old Bar (bikers, yuppies, punk band burn-outs and the whole nine with a menu that wasn't too shabby).

I had the jerked salmon which was complimented by the lemony twang of the Sierras I was sucking down...a couple of bikers...musicians...Georga peaches (pretty women) sprinkled here, a couple of fuglies over there...one thing I do recall about the South is that nowhere else in the country do whites and blacks co-exist in such an elbow-to-elbow way, Sure in cities like NYC, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston even Washington, DC the "melting pot aesthetic can be seen on mass transportation vehicles (subways, buses, ferry boats) but that's about it -- you'd be hard put to find a bar, or restaraunt in Georgetown where "men in grey tweed suits," mingled with blue-collared grease monkeys (nametagged shirt optional) and black guitarists frequent on the regular (I didn't say anything about titty bars, so check yourself, yo); this first struck me last week as I scarfed down a couple of Denver omelettes at around 3 a.m. in the 3rd Street Diner back in VA after a night of carousing with my cousin.

Here, in Atlanta, that racial mix-thing is even more pronounced...a bitter-sweet reminder of a past that the rest of America wants to sweep under the rug whenever possible: in these regions we've been thrown together the longest -- starting at Jamestown and Williamsburg and through slavery, then the antebellum and up on to the present (that third item back there has left a scar on the national psyche that just won't heal properly but let's not even go there right now, m'kay?) "Smiles everyone, smiles [clapping hands together like Ricardo Montalban on "Fantasy Island"] -- where's a funny little French midget foil when you really need one? Maybe I'll find him in mid-town Atlanta walking around in his little white suit...

This heavily tatted scenester, that I'd met at the Eastside Lounge, told me to check out this spot called The Mark downtown this weekend...oh, and that she'd be there on Friday...say, that sounds just crazy enough to work...did I mention she was a cutie?...I've been writing all of my entries down on soggy napkins or this little green steno pad that I can easily store in my pockets (between sips and chatting with the birds -- can't be all scribble and no diddle, kid)...K. V. just told me that this underground hangout, that L5 Pointers and other Atlantans in the know would frequent late nights, called M.J.Q...had moved to a bigger venue since I'd left for the coast as he suspiciously informed me that he hadn't really hung out there in a minute...seems like an opportune time to pay tribute to an old friend named George from back in the day. Skol, yo (raising a half filled cocktail glass to the blog with a pinky extended)...laters....

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