Sunday, March 9, 2008
Atlanta: The Good, the Bad, and the Donut
Hey kids, just got back from a trip down to the booming metropolis of Atlanta, Georgia. The capital of the dirty, lying Peach State (bullshit, we grow more peaches in South Carolina, they are the peanut state) has not always filled me with a cuddly, Care Bear-like warmth. The traffic is the worst that I have ever seen in my extensive travels around the United States. It seems like it takes forty-five minutes to go from any point A to any point B in the entire city. There are more cars there than people. I swear I have seen some driving down the road without drivers. Creepy. The opening scene of "Office Space", features an elderly lady with a walker managing to move faster than traffic was almost assuredly filmed in Atlanta.
In addition to traffic issues, Atlanta has without a doubt the largest percentage of bums in the known universe (according to the latest edition of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy there is one bum for every five citizens in the city). When my brother Colin, his friend Kevin, and I arrived in the Centennial Olympic Park area on Thursday and got out of our car, the phrase "bum rush" immediately came to mind. We were asked for change on three occasions within two hundred yards. Even if our bodies were sprinklers that fired coins in every direction, we would not have been able to meet the demand. How all these hobos can manage to subsist in such a small area is well beyond me. What can we as a society do to help these folks out? I suggest we hire them as toll road booth collectors since they have experience in that area. The state charges a dollar ninety five. We could also paint them up to look like a fountain or a slot machine. People like throwing coins into those things. Boone Farm and Thunderbird sales have been way down lately and if we inject money into the bum community I feel we could see some improvement in that aspect of our national economy. Just a thought.
This post is not intended as a hate session aimed at tearing apart the poor, helpless city of Atlanta and its sad, mentally deranged citizens. Not at all - in fact I had some great experiences during this particular sojourn. Good music, interesting food, and quality people punctuated the visit. As soon as my brother and I finished running the bum gauntlet (Factoid: Gauntlet was a great arcade game from the 80s - I used to play with the Valkyrie who shot lightning bolts from her bosom), things took a turn for the better. I arrived inside the venue for the show, an old converted church known simply as The Tabernacle. The inside was colorfully painted and had a nice lived-in feel. The pews had been removed from the church, leaving wide open space for the concert goers to wreak havoc upon one another. Directly up above was the balcony area, only twelve feet or so over our heads and surrounding us on three sides. The arena had that great churchly feel, without the burning sensation I usually get when entering such a holy place. There really wasn't a bad spot to be inside the arena, everyone was close to the stage - and they had crammed in roughly three thousand of my closest friends I had never met before. When the main act, Flogging Molly, came on stage things really got exciting. I was immediately impressed with the acoustics. The music sounded so crisp and clean - and loud. I seem to never be happy with the volume inside a venue, I always want them to turn up the amps to eleven. No complaints here in regards to the Tabernacle. The sound was perfect and so was the crowd. They went apeshit as soon as the headliner went on and didn't stop until the show was over almost two hours later. Hell, they even screamed for the opening act, a couple of drunk Cajuns playing washboards and singing about Grandma's buttermilk biscuits (just jealous they stole my song idea).
I only had one minor complaint. The smell from the tightly grouped masses was enough to gag a moose. People could not get to trash cans, so they just threw their beer cups when they finished, many with a bit of liquid yet inside. Needless to say, everyone was hit with beer quite a few times. Combined with the body odor of the sweating crowd, the aroma was truly nauseating. I did not give a damn. Everyone was in a state of euphoria, even the mosh pit. Although violent, whenever a dancer was knocked to the ground a wall of people surrounded the fallen mosher and helped him back to a standing position. I was so tired after the raucous events that I did not even care to repair to the bar afterward for the usual post-show cocktail, opting instead to return to my hotel room and fall into a contented coma.
The next day I went down to Glenwood Avenue, which my friend Matt had recommended, so that I could party with some friends who are cursed to reside in Atlanta. Colin again joined me and we grabbed a taxi - foreseeing a long, ugly day of debauchery ahead. Glenwood proved to be a great choice. Despite being in the center of a huge smelly city, it had a friendly village vibe to it. Most of the clientele and employees seemed to know one another and treated foreigners such as myself as if we were individuals rather than souls lost in a sea of humanity (the usual response I have received in past visits to the city). We chose to begin the nuclear annihilation of our bodies at the altar of the Holy Taco, a newly opened Mexican joint. Some would call it the bar. We quickly befriended our server, Zooey and the owner, a Scotsman named Robert, with our winning smiles and ability to put up a large tab at a place most would considerate cheap, especially for Atlanta. Sol was my beer of the day, a Mexican cerveza that I had consumed on my first excursion into the land of the inebriated fifteen years ago. Although nostalgia mixed with my suds, our food was incredibly original compared to the fare I am accustomed to in Greenville's Mexican restaurants. Homemade soups and salsa did battle in an international contest of flavor sensationality. The Columbian soup fell to the Ecuadorian salsa by the score of 4-0, yet another victory for the unbeatable Peruvian haters. The losers snorted a mountain of coke to celebrate. Some of the most delectable tacos and quesadillas I had ever tasted followed and the meal finished up with a delightfully sweet and flaky sopapilla.
Matt finally arrived at five. After chastening us for becoming a piece of furniture at the Holy Taco, he lead us down the road for dinner at the Glenwood Pub. I know it seems like we just ate, but trust me there was a bit of drinking in between just to break things up a little. The Glenwood has a beer list that makes the Oxford English Dictionary (two volumes, with magnifying glass) look like a pamphlet in comparison. Faced with so many good choices, I picked the Spaten Optimator as it was listed as a malt liquor. It seemed time to step things up a notch. I thought it was a shame that I was still standing up at this juncture in my day. For those of you interested, this beer goes well with a bratwurst and fried pickles. Of course, what doesn't? After some brews and a couple epic shuffleboard comebacks by yours truly, we were joined by my friends Tedo and Julia. Tedo is Bulgarian and the pub was strictly anti-Bulgarian, so we had to move on to the next location.
That and we wanted to play darts. The Gravity Pub was the next hot spot on our path since it featured this valuable perk. More importantly, though, it featured the greatest of midnight snacks. After a few more adult beverages and some humiliating losses in cricket, that is just what was needed. The signature item on the Gravity menu, one sure to gain it a spot in the annals of culinary fame, was a hamburger. Burger, bacon, and cheese made up the center of the dish. The money shot came with the bun - a glazed Krispy Kreme donut cut in half. If this doesn't scream deliciousness, then I don't know what does. Okay, so it tastes about as bad as it sounds, but in my defense, I was not legally or physically able to operate heavy machinery at this point in the day. My standards had fallen a bit. It was time to go to the Flatiron.
We finished up at the Flatiron, a pub which featured tattooing services upstairs. After being told that I could not get a tattoo of Ted Kennedy on my ass, I sat down with the group in a quiet corner. Any other information that I could provide you at this point would be a total lie, as there are small chunks of time missing from this portion in the evening. Eventually Matt took Colin and I back to the hotel and the day was hung up to dry with my liver. I had found a good side to Atlanta. I have always gone back solely because of the friends I have there, but now I have another reason. It sure as hell doesn't involve a donut, though.