Spent some time after taking Jessie & Jason to the airport for their trip to NH driving around the ATL, both of us revisiting old stomping grounds and being gobsmacked at the staggering level of gentrification that has swallowed Atlanta whole, it appears. Actually, instead of a stroll down memory lane, it ended up a sad tour of places I barely even recognize anymore. Both of us kept exclaiming "OH MY GOD, SHUT THE FUCK UP!" at every turn in every neighborhood. The once might White Dot, where I saw Yellow's former band Insane Jane play amazing sets and was the scene of many interesting nights out on the town is now a Chinese restaurant, after serving several years as a dry cleaners. Little 5 Points has a fucking Best Buy, Target, Kroger, and a shitload of other sore thumb McConsumer pornshops arranged in a bastardization of the goddamned French Quarter - it was nauseating. She'd prepped me for that one before driving me to it, and we sat there in the car - mouths agape and disgustipated, and she summed it up perfectly with "Remember when we were afraid to walk past this area alone?" At the other end of L5P, the newest eyesore is the still-under-construction Urban Outfitters just down the strip mall from The Majestic on Ponce. Pathetic, I tell you. Perhaps the only area that unnerved me more was Cabbagetown - or rather, what once WAS Cabbagetown. On Sunday we went into Midtown to get some art supplies for Yellow and I had to stand and stare at the parking lot that once was Backstreet/The Armory, where I had spent many a night until morning in complete debauchery along with Yellow and other friends at different times. The bar that I spent my 21st birthday in, The Cove, is now a police precinct. Which is funny, considering the number of laws that were broken on that lot in those years - I dented in my own fair share as well, but that's neither here nor there. Stuff that is part of my history that's just... GONE. The Stein Club, The Beer Mug, Rumors, The Gallus, Oxford Books, Rupert's, The Point, The L5P Pub, Bridgetown Grill (L5P) The Oddyssey, The Cavern Club, Somber Reptile, and OMG the bands - Insane Jane, The Jody Grind, Opal Foxx Quartet/Smoke, Deacon Lunchbox, So Inclined, Blood Poets, The Mirthmakers, tons more...
Sunday the three of us (Yellow, Damien, & myself) went to the farmer's market, one of my most favorite places on earth, and got things to eat for the day. In the afternoon, we all piled into bed and watched the Don Cheadle film "Talk To Me", which is based on the life of DC radio jock Petey Greene, a legendary character. It's a fantastic film, hilariously funny and at times heartbreakingly sad. I recommend it.
Got up at the buttcrack of predawn on Monday to begin the long trek from Atlanta to Ohio, had coffee with Yellow and gave goodbye smooches to Juno the German Shepherd (who is just a giant puppy in a ferocious looking dog costume) before leaving, having given up a tear inducing goodbye in favor of a quick "I love you and I'll talk to you later on this evening" kind of thing. There was little traffic on the road, and once the sun came up we had beautiful weather for the duration of the trip - until we crossed the state line into Ohio and the happy got sucked out of everything - gray skies, dirty landscape, just general feh. I'm getting ahead of myself. North Georgia is a sleepy place on a still dark winter's morning, and it you pay close attention to it jsut before the sun comes up you can actually see everything yawning and coming awake. By the time we got to Tennessee, the sun was mostly up and throwing shadows on the cliff walls where the roads had been cut into the mountains. Icicles were streaming in the light, and we laughed at the juxtaposition of the huge porn shops under the shadow of the 3 story cross made of aluminum siding, as well as the pairing of signs that sat next to one another - "Jesus Saves" next to "Let's Hear It For The 1st Amendment!" Ah, democracy... High in the mountains we went into a series of dips in the highway that were nestled in forest fauna and then swallowed whole by a thick blanket of fog like I had never seen before. The sunlight coming in from the east threw an ethereal glow into the deadwood that made it alive again and it all felt very comforting, even enchanting. Then it disappeared in a flash after about 2-3 miles and we were back to looking over the guard rails at the little towns with their quaint homes several hundred feet below the highway, nestled in like little village figurines.
Kentucky is a very strange place when you're taking it in as it rushes by you at 80 MPH in a swank rental car, but I dig it. The best part about Kentucky, aside from how beautiful it is, is that 5 mile stretch that runs parallel to 75N just before Lexington, where if you're lucky you'll catch the days where the bacon producers are smoking, the air is perfumed with the redolent tincture of hickory smoke and cured bacon. You'll encounter it again and again in the endless parade of smokehouse barbecue joints strung along the highway as well. No matter what time of day, no matter how recently I've eaten - the moment my senses lock on to pit roasted, well smoked pork - I want barbecue and all the trimmings.
Got to Columbus at 2PM-ish, and settled in for family time. All of Damien's family had gathered at his sister's place, and we spent Giftmas Eve & Giftmas day eating excellent food, laughing and playing games, exchanging presents (I scored some EXCELLENT loot), and even an occasional shot of Jagermeister. Met our newest addition to that side of the family, the adventurous 2 year old Elise, who greeted us immediately with an enthusiastic "RARR!!!!!", complete with bared teeth and claw hands. She was henceforth christened "Baby Raptor". She and Damien warmed up to one another relatively quickly, which is exceptional as Damien tends to be a bt standoffish with children - but the two of them played and interacted consistently the entire time we were there. I got to catch up on things with family I rarely get to see/spend time with, and it was a great time all in all. Left there this morning at the buttcrack of predawn again, and made a beeline for home. Having now gotten everything unpacked and laundry ready for washing tomorrow, I'm pretty exhausted but deleriously happy to be back home.
I hope everyone had as great a Giftmas as we did!