Last Thursday in the basement of SunTrust Plaza, a kickoff party for Downtown Atlanta Restaurant Week was held. I'm sorry for using the passive tense, but the list of sponsors is too long to arrange the sentence any other way. Besides, I'm on deadline. May 19-25 (and again Aug. 4-10), a bunch of the better downtown restaurants will try to lure locals for dinner with a three-course meal at the low, low prixxy-fixxy of $20.03.
I mention the party for two reasons. First, they didn't invite me because I'm a nice guy -- they invited me so I'd mention it. That's the way these things work. Secondly, it serves as an effective, though admittedly awkward, introduction to the next column item. That's because while I was at the party, the AJC's A. Scott Walton gave me two tickets to see "The Power Within," a day-long self-help/motivational speaker event at the Cobb Galleria on Friday featuring Dr. Phil.
Before I arrived, I had the boneheaded notion that I'd be able to speak with Dr. Phil personally. I decided to make up a problem to discuss with him. I settled on: "Dr. Phil, I'm worried that my wife and I are developing Stockholm Syndrome." Since the first time I read about Patty Hearst's kidnapping, I've been fascinated by it. Unfortunately, there were a few thousand people already there ahead of me, so there was no opportunity to ask. So, I took my seat in the very last row and observed.
Before Dr. Phil came on, he sent Chandler Hayes, his warm-up performer, on stage. With intimidating perkiness, he delivered classics like, "Are you ready to see Dr. Phil?!?!" "I want you to shake hands with the person behind you," and "Oh my goodness, you're so excited to be here!"
Hayes was followed, without explanation, by the video for Shania Twain's "Man! I Feel Like a Woman." (Maybe someone at Phil Co. thinks that's what his overwhelmingly female audience wants.)
When Phil came out, he immediately started getting on us men for our poor communication skills, noting that women use 5,000 words per day while men only use 1,500. At that point (no lie), I turned to my right and looked at the couple next to me. The woman was leaning forward in her chair, tuned into Dr. Phil's every word. The man was playing a video game on his PDA.
I'm no ordinary man, so I did, in fact, pay attention. I learned that I need to re-write the script of my life and make myself the star. He didn't require it, but I'm putting in a lot of really hot sex scenes.
Sweet and sour
There were two big intown festivals last weekend -- Inman Park and Sweet Auburn Springfest. I flipped an imaginary coin and decided Sweet Auburn would be the one I'd cover this year.
I think I chose wrong. Instead of celebrating art, culture or even the neighborhood, way too much of the festival space was dominated by bootleg CD, DVD and clothing booths. Honestly, what the hell is so Sweet (Auburn) or festive about selling tapes of Bringing Down the House and Anger Management recorded in the theater with a video camera? It's Tijuana, minus the schoolgirls selling Chiclets.
These distractions were especially annoying because they took the focus away from real artists like Alan Cambeira. The Dominican author discussed his novel, Azucar! The Story of Sugar, a tale of romance and hardship that revolves around a sugar plantation.
And let's not forget Dr. Love, who despite his questionable medical credentials, runs an Internet blues, jazz, R&B and hip-hop station (www.dr-love.com) from Auburn Avenue. His station was worth the visit, if only for his small but fantastic collection of blues musician portraits by Sheila Turner -- and because everyone actually seems to call him Dr. Love.
Nestled near the end of romantic-sounding Zonolite Road, the Floataway office complex hosted its fifth annual open house "hey, come look at us" party last Friday. The mixed-use complex is home to Atlanta cultural fixtures Floataway Cafe, PushPush Theater and Barbara Archer Gallery. But because it's tucked away in a mini-industrial district off Briarcliff Road, it needs open-house events to keep its profile up.
Stopping by Studio Lotus, I learned from its owner that Pilates, the exercise, is named after Joseph Pilates, the person. By the way, Billy Yoga, Robert Weighttraining and Jimmy Kung Fu are not real people. Trust me. I asked.
At Barbara Archer Gallery, I met Illona Cardona. Apparently, she's the not only the Queen of Hat Couture, she's also the Hat Lady of Georgia. She discussed hats in society and how hats make people feel. Her talk coinciding with Carl Clark's photo show, Sunday Morning Women, depicting women in hats at or near church.
Last week, the downtown club that used to be called Trinity reopened as a new club called Formosa, which is what Taiwan (the country, not the club) used to be called. Replacing Trinity's warm redness with relaxed off-whiteness and woods, Formosa is a little more laid back. Dressing down is more comfortable in a club that isn't so aggressively stylish.
Although nice enough and very friendly, the crowd was a bit thin. Several members of the extended Patel family were there (I know that because they told me so). I also recognized several dancers from the Cheetah. (Dear Mom, the Cheetah is an avant-garde dance company in Midtown Atlanta).
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