Friday, February 29, 2008

Make the Collector Nerd Sweat (Part 2)

Ok, so it was two days instead of one. Sorry. Hope no one's day was ruined.

So as we were slowly selling off the Groundwork/Suspended Animation splits, we were readying release number two, the Soulfish 7". I vaguely recall that at one point we were discussing a Soulfish LP -- though whether that was intended to be the second release, or instead a release after the 7", I don't remember. We may have actually advertised that it was "coming soon" -- this is one of the first times I've ever wished I kept my back issues of MRR, so that I could check the ads.

Soulfish was Daron's band -- he sang, with Luke on guitar, Steve on bass, and Dave (Groundwork's guitarist) on drums. They'd been around in some form or another since before I moved to Tucson and knew any of the guys, but name- and lineup-changes kept them from ever really getting into a groove until Dave joined (as a fill-in, I think, but he became permanent).

They were in something of an odd place, I think. Through friendships, they were forever linked to Tucson's straight-edge scene, though they weren't a SE band and didn't have anything close to that sound. They were what's generally called DC-influenced, though at a time when that scene was going more angular and art rock, they were more full and melodic. An enormously talented band that somehow never found the right audience in our city.

I think the 7" was either recorded twice, or recorded then heavily tweaked on a second studio visit. I was in for the first/only session, ostensibly because I was going to learn how to "produce" -- I think my sole contribution was asking "so what does that knob do?"

For the second release, we upped the pressing to 1,000, which was probably a mistake. Not having Xs everywhere, Soulfish didn't have the automatic audience that Groundwork did, and I'm not sure whether MRR even reviewed it (this was the notorious period when the magazine was making controversial judgment calls on whether records were punk enough to be reviewed, leading to Alternative Tentacles' silly "Banned from MRR" t-shirts), so they took a long while to get out. Part of this was our over-optimism about how the DIY record market worked -- we figured that people would be lining up to distribute and sell the singles. No such luck.

It was a pretty package, though -- we splurged for blue-gray marble vinyl, and higher-quality covers (with art by No For An Answer's Gavin Oglesby and my brother, in some sort of weird kind-of collaboration that I've forgotten the details of -- I really shoulda kept a journal back then). It looks pretty nice even now.

After the single came out, Soulfish went on tour (I remember it as being ill-fated -- but again, no details. I used to have a really great memory, I swear). I ran GT Records while they were gone, in the Revelation Records style of the time -- I'd get an order, wait freaking forever (I was getting increasingly distracted by college, college girls, and beer), then send it out.

And that lack of interest kind of indicated the forthcoming end of my association with Ghost Town. Daron and I had some sort of falling-out -- again, I don't remember any of the details, and given my various early-1990s insecurity problems, temper problems, and sarcasm problems, that's probably just as well. I don't think there was any formal ending to me and the label, I just drifted away and was replaced by someone else. All for the best.

Years later I saw Daron here in Atlanta -- I showed up at a performance of his then-band Delegate, who were fantastic. Whatever decade-old silliness had come between us was forgotten, and we had a hell of a good time. Last I heard, he was in NY and doing a new musical project, which I really should look up.

After I left the label, one more release came out in 1994 -- another split 7", this one between the Weird Lovemakers (a band that actually gained something of a following) and A Band Called Moss, my little brother's band (making him, I think, the only person other than Daron to have a hand in all three Ghost Town releases). But by then I was pretty distant from the whole scene, and only got a copy because of the family connection.

So that's that. The tale of big dreams that didn't quite work out -- but also produced some of the only tangible memories of a fairly important time in my life.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Make the Collector Nerd Sweat (Part 1)

Whenever it becomes time to update the old resume, there are a few things I leave off. Hospital graveyard shift worker -- doesn't make it. World's crappiest busboy -- no. Uninspired freelance PR flak (for a few soulless weeks in college), definitely not. Master of the electric bull -- well, possibly.

Also left off: record label magnate. But indeed, for a couple years in the early '90s, I was joint proprietor of Tucson, Arizona's Ghost Town Records.

Ghost Town was started by my high school friend Daron, to put out records by his band (Soulfish) and other friends' bands. Not sure how I was recruited -- maybe because I had an aura of responsibility, maybe just because I was around all the time. We had visions of starting another Dischord, with all that entails -- legendary releases through the years, the Tucson hardcore scene growing into one spoken of with reverence, etc. It sounds foolish now, but we were 18, isolated, and had idealism to spare.

Our first record was a split 7" between Groundwork and Suspended Animation, two bands with a pretty deeply intertwined relationship -- as best I can remember (deep breath) Brendan was lead singer of SA, quit, Dave (SA's guitarist) took over vocal duties, Brendan started posi/straight-edge band Upside with a few other guys, they decided to make it an animal rights/straight-edge band so they broke up Upside, added Dave to that lineup on guitar, started Groundwork, and SA broke up. Something like that. So the record was a transition of sorts, the last recordings from Suspended Animation and the first from Groundwork.

We were a bit too proud to ask anyone who had done this before for help, but we muddled through, got our edition of 500 vinyl records, got our recycled-paper covers (Groundwork bassist Britt and my brother did the art for the Groundwork side; I think SA's drummer did it on that side), got our Pagemaker-laid-out ads off to MRR. Several mail-order customers admitted they ordered it just because the ad's photo showed Dave wearing a Chain of Strength t-shirt, so we apparently had some canny marketing abilities.

I'm pretty sure we only sent off two review copies (we didn't have many to spare) -- one to Maximum Rock 'n' Roll, one to No Answers. No Answers never published another issue, and after we had excited and anticipatory late-night discussions about the MRR review (maybe Mick Krash would do it!), that turned out to be a pan. As I recall, Groundwork was dismissed as typical straight-edge, Suspended Animation was criticized for the song lyric "casual sex is a sin." Privately, most of us were embarrassed by that lyric, but it upset our finely-honed teenage senses of justice to hear someone else criticize it.

Slowly, though, the batch (hand-numbered -- I just checked and I have #2/500) sold out. (collector note: the lyric sheet features a cameo appearance by yours truly, looking rather shocked in the upper left corner, over Brendan's shoulder -- I was probably wearing the same Turning Point t-shirt that I'm wearing in every single photo from my senior year of high school) Meanwhile, though, our dreams of Tucson as Hardcore Capital of the World were getting smushed -- Groundwork was first discussing a move to California (with the goal of getting on New Age Records, largely forgotten now but a churner-out of crap in the 1990s), then hooking up with some sketchy Italian label for their second release. This didn't happen to Ian and Jeff!

Groundwork went on to be a pretty solid hardcore band -- I think at this point I can say without bias that they were a cut above most bands in a similar boat at the time. They went on to make a name for themselves, in minor circles, with increasingly political lyrics and good songwriting, while also being frequently self-defeating (frequent within-band fights, Britt quitting just as they were getting bigger, etc). At times, they drank a little too deeply at the Downcast well for my tastes, but that's part of small-town scenes -- you're always looking at the bigger boys. After the Ghost Town release, they recorded the aforementioned Italian single, then moved on to Bloodlink Records, which put out another 7", another split, and then a full-length LP after they broke up. A discography CD came out at some point, but seems to be long out of print (and as I recall, it didn't have the split 7" tracks -- Britt and I tossed around the idea of putting out those songs and an unreleased demo as a 10", but it never came to anything).

The post-mortem: Brendan went on to be in Absinthe (who were fantastic -- their limited output is among that rare subsection of hardcore that I can still listen to today, and a Los Crudos/Absinthe bill remains one of the best hardcore shows I saw back in those days) and then Bury Me Standing (sort of after my time); Dave was in Soulfish and later 400 Years, who put out a couple things on Lovitt Records; Britt was in Asunder a few years back and had moved up to Seattle last I talked to him; drummer Thayer was DJing last I heard (many years back).

One more side note: during one of Groundwork's semi-frequent schisms, Brendan, Britt, Thayer, and Jerid (who later became Britt's replacement on bass and then second guitarist) formed Sackcloth and Ashes, and recorded one song for a compilation which I hope to god never did come out. Heavy hardcore, over-serious and uninformed political lyrics, and alternating between Brendan doing grindy vocals and me shrieking like Doc Dart (another reference!). It really cemented a simple truth: I wasn't cut out for bands.

(This is taking much longer than I anticipated, and I've got things to do -- so -- TUNE IN TOMORROW FOR PART TWO.)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Sleep Deprivation

I've been sleeping extraordinarily poorly this past week, and even when I do sleep, it's not overly restful. So that sucks.

I'm hoping that tonight breaks the pattern, but either way, here's the funniest thing I've seen this week: Garfield Minus Garfield.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Call Me When You Find America

#5 -- "Americana" by Don DeLillo

Some time back, I read an interview with Richard Powers in which he described throwing everything he knew into his first novel -- because he wasn't sure he'd ever write a second.

You can see that at work in "Americana," dating back to 1971, and one of the only DeLillo novels that I hadn't read (up to now). It's overflowing with ideas -- too many of them, in fact -- a mishmash of thoughts and themes that's sometimes fantastic and sometimes aggravating. It's a stab at a great American novel that ultimately falls short, but gets pretty entertaining and interesting at times along the way.

Briefly: the novel centers around David Bell, rising star in the television industry. The first half is an often sly satire of and stab at the corporate world and the aforementioned TV biz -- the second half follows Bell as he goes out on the road with a few friends, ostensibly to gather material for a new series but ultimately going completely off the rails.

The parts are greater than the whole here. Once we leave New York, it reads more like a collection of loosely-connected short stories than a narrative. It's pretty uneven -- sometimes bitingly and subtly funny, sometimes agonized and enraged, like "Howl" as a novel, sometimes as eye-rollingly pretentious as the worst 4 a.m. dorm conversation.

I wonder how this went over when it first came out -- obviously, DeLillo's gone on to a long and storied career. It's got more going on than 99% of debuts, and while I won't be rushing to re-read this anytime down the line, it's pretty impressive stuff. Now maybe I can finally conquer "Ratner's Star."

Thursday, February 21, 2008


(title stolen from Fredoluv)

It's that time again, one where I put out the call to whoever's reading -- what are you listening to (that I might like)? I think the vastness of the web actually makes it a bit difficult for me to find new (as in new) music that I might like -- it was a lot easier in the days when I just relied on the Maximum Rock 'n' Roll or No Answers review columns. (not as good, perhaps, but easier.) Of all the CDs I bought in 2007 (there were a fair amount), only three (Jesu, Son Volt, Modest Mouse) were actually put out in 2007, and of those three, only one (Jesu) was really new to me. Bearing in mind that I won't start reading Pitchfork until I suffer a few more severe head injuries, where do I find good new stuff?

And, more importantly (sort of got off track here), what should I check out? Things I've been listening to lately, to give you a little idea: Miles Davis "Dark Magus", Jesu (still), Son Volt, traditional Greek and Bulgarian music, Soundtrack of Our Lives, Soul Coughing's first two albums, Government Issue "You", Die Kreuzen, the Gun Club "Las Vegas Story".

* * *

On the music tip, I should mention here that hero to millions Brushback has a new music blog, One Base on an Overthrow, and it's as cool as you'd expect -- obscure mp3s and good stories from old punk bands. So ... go read it!

* * *

And carrying on. A while back I'd started a post on Florida's Cavity, a band that I've always loved but thought kinda underappreciated, then scrapped because that's what I do best -- start writing projects, then start playing Eastside Hockey Manager and forget what I was doing.

I'll revive a bit of it though -- here's three moderately to extremely obscure mid-'90s hardcore/sludge/noise bands that I love a great deal, and that (with the exception of Cavity) seem to be almost entirely forgotten.

Cavity -- I first heard them through old buddy Britt Hallett, in the days of Tucson's Candy Shack/3rd Street Records, and thought, "eh." I lumped them in with the at the time-growing slew of bands that were mining Black Sabbath's increasingly moldering corpse for sound and inspiration, and thought nothing more. A few years later, having left Tucson behind and having become a subpar music writer in a hippie college town, I got their "Supercollider" as a promo from Man's Ruin Records, and was leveled -- moreso when I hurriedly got some of their other albums and found the original lead signer's stuff. Heavy and pounding, with a vocalist that took more cues from Scratch Acid than Ozzy, they were right up my street ... aside from a disconcerting habit of vanishing for years on end, then suddenly reappearing with an amazing album, then vanishing again. They seem to have vanished for good around 2003. Too freakin' bad. They stood head and shoulders above all those aforementioned Sabbathy bands, and I'm rather surprised that they haven't (in the manner of Drive Like Jehu or Swiz) picked up more of a following in the years since, aren't named as influences more often. Perfect Sound Forever's got a feature here. I won't post a mp3 because the album's still in print, but "Sweat and Swagger" off the "On the Lam" album probably ranks in my top ten songs of all time, simultaneously focused as a military exercise and crazy as the Northern Lights.

Pachinko -- there was a period during my senior year of college where every single record I purchased came from Rhetoric Records, Bovine Records, or Vacuum Mailorder. Somewhere in there, I found Pachinko, who were responsible for only a handful of limited-press singles and comp tracks at that point. Like the next band, they took their music cues from AmRep and Jesus Lizard and stoner rock. Their lyrics came from who the hell knows where, and their humor from general stupidity (their single and album titles were generally taken from porn movies, which amused me greatly 13 years ago -- now, doing a web search on "Who Shaved Pachinko," I feel like an asshole). Those singles and those comp tracks were some absolutely fantastic, manic, slightly dangerous songs ("Deep Inside Pachinko" remaining the pick of the litter). Unfortunately, they eventually signed to Alternative Tentacles, and over the course of two unremarkable albums, were overwhelmed by the general boredom that's attached to virtually everything that label's put out since the Crucifucks. I can't find my singles, which sucks. Can't imagine that I would have sold them, so maybe they're under the bed somewhere. Pachinko appeared on a few comps with the Festering Rinyanyons, who had the worst band name ever and put out a single and album of insane John Brannon singing for the Dwarves hardcore, and really should probably be number four on this list.

Ritual Device -- Introduced to me by Jason Auslander, my boss at the school paper and conduit to really good music as I abandoned my straight edge days. Like I said, T&G and Amphetamine Reptile influences, lots of Big Black and Jesus Lizard, but a lot more focus than Pachinko and a manic, jittery energy that was alternately energizing and nerve-wracking. Put out a fantastic single, "Ritual Lips" (don't google that phrase, by the way -- results get disturbing), the "Henge" album on a label that had, oddly, previously released something by Four Walls Falling, and a single with lots of multilated hands on the cover before calling it quits. Singer Tim Moss went on to front the Men of Porn (probably shouldn't google that either), who aren't bad; the rest of the band formed Ravine (who I haven't heard), and that was that. I wrote to them once, encouraging them to visit Tucson -- they sent me a bundle of stickers, which was pretty cool. But I never saw them live.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Shout It From the Rooftops

Czechvar is on tap at Manuel's Tavern, Atlanta, Georgia.

Czechvar is on tap at Manuel's Tavern, Atlanta, Georgia!

CZECHVAR is on tap at Manuel's Tavern, ATLANTA, Georgia!!







A brief timeline for the uninitiated:

2001 -- Greg has Budvar for the first time in Prague

2002, probably -- Atlanta becomes one of the four North American test markets for "Czechvar," the name Budvar takes so that Budweiser doesn't get upset

Sometime soon after -- Czechvar apparently does ok, because it becomes available across the continent

Sometime soon after THAT -- cultural backwaters like "Vancouver" are able to laugh, as a legal dispute renders Czechvar (under any name) unavailable in Atlanta. Greg can only have it in Boulder or Europe.

February, 2008 -- CZECHVAR IS ON TAP AT MANUEL'S TAVERN, ATLANTA, GEORGIA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I stopped in at Manuel's this afternoon, and noticed that the guy next to me had a "Czechvar" coaster. Hoping against hope, I asked the bartender -- "hey, do you have Czechvar available?" He confirmed that they did, and I responded in a manner that, I guess, suggested that I'd just found the key to free blowjob land. Seeing my excitement, the guy next to me said "well, I was gonna get a Pabst, but after seeing that I guess I've gotta get one of those." When his friend arrived, guy #1 bought the new arrival a Czechvar (new arrival called it "Czech-Fire"). They kept drinking them. When guy #1 told another bartender he wanted a refill, and she asked "Pabst?" he responded "no -- one of these," pointing to the Czechvar coaster. Another convert. CZECHVAR IS THE BARACK OBAMA OF BEERS!

I'm pretty happy, and pleasantly afternoon-drunk.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Sometimes There's Benefits

It's not all fun and games here in Atlanta, but every once in a while living here pays off -- for instance, when I'm able to go for an evening stroll in t-shirt and shorts on February 15th. (Just two or three days after it was snowing a little, no less.) Don't worry, LP and Nanuk, in July you'll be relatively comfortable while I'll be wishing I'd never been born.

In the absence of anything else, the rest of the photos from last weekend:

This seemed to be an apartment building, or mixed apartments and offices -- this little alcove caught my eye because it seemed much less Atlanta than London, as if it should have been named "McGill Mews" or similar.

The same building, from the side -- tragic truth revealed, the cool front is all that remains of the old building, and the rest is nondescript add-on from sometime in the late 20th century.

In an effort to spruce up the viaducts above the Downtown Connector, Atlanta's put in some folk art installations. Some of 'em are pretty cool.

Ah, the Imperial Hotel, how have I somehow missed you over the years? Actually, I've noticed it plenty of times, just always been in the wrong spot or in a car or whatever. Against all odds, it's actually been renovated and is being used, apparently as a low-cost housing project that (at least from the outside) looks very well-kept.

Not so well-kept: the Medical Arts Building. It's been largely gutted inside, I believe, and just sits vacant with no real plans for its future. Phreakmonkey, again, went inside a while back -- cool photo spreads here and here.

Homeless dude started yelling at me as I took this photo.

One more for the road. Dig that sign.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Ralph and Ivan

Winter's making a last stand these couple of days, one last offensive before packing it in. Later today it's supposed to warm up a bit, tomorrow it'll be back up in the 60s, but right now it's goddamn cold. So I'm staying inside as much as possible, and finally posting these pictures.

Last weekend it wasn't cold, and feeling a bit guilty after eating the Spicy Rat Toes, I went for a lengthy stroll.

Ralph McGill Boulevard goes through a good portion of downtown Atlanta, but in my years here I doubt I've driven down it more than a dozen times -- so this was rather uncharted territory. The bridge above (which I've photographed before, at a much different time of year) has a plaque underneath it indicating that the street's name was once Forrest Avenue. Forrest was named for Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate Army figure, and, um, the first Grand Wizard of the KKK (though according to Wikipedia, he was a relatively moderate Klansman. Hooray?). Ralph McGill was a newspaper editor and ardent anti-segregationist, so I think we can all agree that it's for the best that they changed it.

McGill changes all down its route -- it begins in the east by the Carter Center, with condo complexes and hip restaurants, goes through a mixture of industrial and abandoned office buildings, then small old houses (many boarded up), then a blend of high-rises that would make Jane Jacobs puke and nicer apartment complexes, then big churches, then old buildings/poor downtown.

The above is one of the abandoned office buildings, which you probably guessed.

Even with my rare appearances on this street, I'm surprised I had never noticed this sign -- a vote in favor of walking. It's outside one of the abandoned office buildings. Ivan Allen Junior was a mayor of Atlanta (and another anti-segregationist), and in fact when McGill hits Peachtree, it turns into Ivan Allen Jr. Boulevard. There was also an Ivan Allen office products company, and I'm guessing this was once the building -- then the sign was turned inside out to put some other long-gone logo on top. Both sides of the sign had this odd reversed look. The Ivan Allen company is apparently still around in some form, but I bet they've ditched this early-'60s logo, to my chagrin.

I've seen that ghostly figure (which looks like it belongs on an Integrity album) on a few abandoned doors around the city.

This one looks like it's a bit of a second cousin to our old friend on Cain Street. It stands out in a neighborhood that's mostly traditional old bungalows.

This was one of the reasons for the walk -- a small, interesting church at the corner of Piedmont and Ralph McGill. It's diagonal from the Atlanta Civic Center, an architectural monstrosity that conveys all the horror of the 1960s -- the much-smaller church is overshadowed, but far more interesting.

It's hard to tell if it's still open or not -- I suspect not. Some web searching indicates that it is/was a Methodist church, but I may be way off here. I'll get to some research at some point.

Update: yeah, former church. Inman Park Properties has it listed, with no real historical info. It suggests that the bigger building would be a good hotel, but no details on whether it actually was.

It's semi-attached to the building in the background, which similarly looks abandoned, but who knows? Some groups are listed as having addresses in that building, but it's impossible to tell if they're current or not. If anyone stumbles upon this and has information, feel free to chip in.

More of the pics over the weekend (maybe).

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Drank Like a River

I went on a long walk a few days back, and took a gajillion photos... but I'm lazy and slow in getting them up. Soon.

In the meantime:

#4 -- "Whiskey River" by Loren D. Estleman

I first read this during my hard-boiled heyday, when I was 19 or so, and was pretty disappointed -- later I read all the rest of his Detroit history books, liked them considerably more, but never gave this a second chance.

Now, finally. I'm not sure why I wasn't thrilled with this way back when. Maybe not enough mystery? It's set in Prohibition-era Detroit, telling the story of competing bootlegging gangs through the eyes of a journalist who's a bit too close to all the unsavory goings-on. It was the first of a trilogy on crime through Detroit's 20th-century history, mixing real-life tales with fiction -- last I knew, the trilogy had expanded, Hitchhiker's-style, to about six books. I'll probably go back and reread them in the coming months, since I remember liking all the rest more than this one, and this time 'round I liked this one quite a bit.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Front Lines

A month and a half into 2008, and I've only read three books now. Well off my normal pace. Is it a lack of attention span? Other distractions? Who knows?

#3 -- "Armageddon: the Battle for Germany, 1944-1945" by Max Hastings

Fitting that I finished reading this book this morning, because after last night I felt like Germany, 1944-1945. Well, not quite that bad. But I was definitely unwell.

But you're not here to read about that -- you're saying "really, Greg, tell us about the books you read. That's always fascinating." Anyway. I got this by accident several years ago -- as a member of the History Book Club (yes, nerrrrd) I mistakenly hit the "send my selection immediately!" button rather than the "don't send selection" button. It could happen to anybody.

It didn't really look like my thing -- I'm not terribly into military history -- but out of shame and obligation, I kept it on my shelf for a couple years, finally dragging it off this past week to give it a cursory chance before selling it to the used bookstore (it's a big book and takes up a lot of space).

So, naturally, it turned out to be fantastic -- I always assume books like this are going to be really aimed at war nerds, and heavy on military formations and other technicalities that aren't in my frame of reference. "Armageddon," at least, is not. It draws heavily from the first-hand accounts of people on all sides; Americans and Brits, Germans and Russians, Dutch and Poles, military and civilian. It's exhaustively researched but doesn't drag you down with statistics.

I made lots of little mental notes on things I should mention, but that was before I decided on the bold stroke of writing this review hungover. So the hell with it. Briefly: "Armageddon" is really really good, and I need to read something happy next.

This is the Enemy

I went out drinking tonight. That may not come as a surprise to anyone, but on Saturday nights, it's been rare of late. Most of my friends work Saturdays, and I've got a girlfriend, and I don't really like most people a whole lot, so there's not much point. Best to just drink at home, cheaper and quieter.

But tonight, Fidel had the night off (first time in several years he's been off and in town on a Saturday), so drinking was a priority. We went to Atkins Park. Also not remarkable, as I go there about six times a week (as it's about 20 feet from my home).

And there I saw him: the guy with a golf tee behind his ear.

I don't think I've ever seen anything that made me hate anyone so instantaneously -- it was as if all the popped collars, ill-fitting khakis, and stupid baseball caps that I'd ever seen took form in this one guy. A Google search on golf tee behind the ear indicates that this is a common practice when you're out golfing, which I guess is acceptable. It doesn't indicate why you would do this in a bar at 10 pm. Does it show that he was playing late-night golf? Does it show that he has some ear disorder, only cured by a tee? Does it show his primacy over Atlanta's douchebags, of whom there are many?

Golf tee ear guy -- you are the enemy. You are everything that's wrong with the world. You are driving people to militant Islam or intelligent design or Red Wings fandom.

And you will be destroyed.

* * *

Also tonight: I referred to Pavement's best-known album as "Scattered, Smothered, and Covered," meaning that at age 35 my synapses can no longer distinguish between Pavement and Unsane, meaning that I should shut the fuck up about music, forever.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Pushing Up Daisies

A few years ago, I entered a photo contest sponsored by Atlanta's old and picturesque Oakland Cemetery. Among my entries was a shot juxtaposing a couple graves with a sign across the street -- "Six Feet Under," a well-known local restaurant. I was pretty certain that I was the only one in possession of such creative chops, and that my shot would establish me as an ironic genius (not to mention netting me the prize). You can imagine my disappointment when I showed up to the exhibition to find that I was one of about 300 people with the same idea. (Another 300 people used various photographic tricks to make it appear that lace-clad ghosts were visiting the graves. I suppose there's only so much you can do with a graveyard.)

Six Feet Under is just a little outside my normal stumbling distance, so I never actually made it down there for another couple years. My loss. It's one of the few places in Atlanta with a good rooftop, the food is good in that everything-fried way, and it's generally a pretty cool, laid-back hangout with a nice view of the cemetery (again, really pretty, not terribly grim).

And, SFU is a place that seems pretty aware of local history -- and in the way that I like, nodding to it and incorporating it rather than setting it behind a velvet rope. The menus have some info about the property's history; the building incorporates pieces of old businesses, and has a pretty awesome collection of old beer signs -- mostly from Atlanta's long-defunct Atlantic Brewery, but also a smattering of others, including one old Budvar sign that would look great in my kitchen.

Coco, Fidel and I marked an unseasonably warm day yesterday with a trip to the cemetery, which consisted of about half an hour of "yep, nice graves" and the occasional photograph before the lure of the beer across the street became too great (another good note: they have Dogfish Head on tap, not something you sneeze at in Atlanta). We sat up top and drank and gorged (I had something called "Spicy Rat Toes" -- jalapenos stuffed with shrimp and wrapped in bacon, then dipped in ranch), and I made the usual vows to start visiting more often. Probably largely empty -- like I said, it's just a little beyond my normal radius. But hopefully I'll start doing a better job of remembering that it's out there.

Six Feet Under's web site is here, with a variety of anecdotes/information about the history and area. One more reason to like them.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Down By the Railyard

This is a bit confusing: I know I've been out taking photos of the old Pullman Yards before, but I don't seem to have ever posted the pictures. So this morning, trying to keep post-Super Bowl lethargy from gluing my still-sick ass to the couch, I went over to the nether lands between Atlanta and Decatur to get my old building fix.

The Pullman Yards have existed in a limbo for some years now. The buildings date back to the early 20th century -- the Atlanta Preservation Center has a bit on them. A bunch of plans have been put forth -- no one's decided anything, though. As it is, the yards are being used for some uncertain purpose (yes, I could probably look it up) while the buildings molder.

All the below pictures were shot through a fence -- if I'd felt snoopy I could have got some much better stuff, but sick + didn't get enough sleep last night = lack of ambition.

Kind of stealing my own thunder here -- Phreakmonkey has been to Pullman a few times, and actually went in -- and got loads of cool stuff.

* * *

I planned to do a Super Bowl post last night, but was too tired when I got home -- and today, all I can muster up is "that was a mighty fine match, sirrah!" or something. So screw it. Instead, I give you the coolest thing I've seen recently (link swiped from Boing Boing).

Friday, February 01, 2008

The Day After

How the PPA celebrates: the Tomas Kloucek cake. Thanks to the Ski Bum for what's definitely the coolest birthday cake I've ever seen.

Owing to my illness-related physical degeneration (worse than I thought -- judging by the candles, people think I'm 53 rather than 35), I was kind of restrained last night. A pleasant, low-key entrance to my final 36th year.

Odd dream from the other night: I was in Panama, and struck up a conversation with novelist/Boing Boing guy Cory Doctorow (I've never read anything by him, but I've been meaning to pick up "Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town"). He said he was living on top of a mountain (just checked, and Panama does indeed have mountains), and his job was to receive transmissions (from Asia) of cricket scores, translate the scores, and then beam them back to Asia. He had to do this at night, but that was ok (he said), because he was only allowed to see his family during the day.

Go figure.