Confessions of a one-man flash mobber 

And a weekend of phun

On Saturday night, 9 Lives Saloon and the Star Bar mostly ignored the 26th anniversary of Elvis Presley's death (although the Star Bar did have an early-evening Elvis tribute). Instead, both bars devoted their lucrative Saturday-night lineups to the cause of raising money for their friend, Richie Viale, who was recently diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

Goodness of the cause aside, it was a chance to see some great local rock bands. The first enjoyably sweaty and sleazy-sounding band I saw was the Evils at 9 Lives. They looked evil enough. But I saw them chatting amongst themselves and with bar patrons, and they were quite friendly. Maybe that's just how they get you to let your guard down before they go all evil on you. Viale was at the front of the stage, cheering and yelling, "Evils!"

A couple of beers later, I wandered over to the Star Bar and caught the Vagrants. Their guitarist (the one who looks like a cross between ex-Fleetwood Mac guitar god Peter Green and CL Vibes Editor Roni Sarig) put on the best soundcheck I've ever heard. For what it's worth, the Vagrants look far more vagrant than the Evils look evil. Oh, and Viale was at the front of the stage yelling and cheering.

It was Elvis Death Day, after all. So I ducked into Star Bar's Elvis Vault to pay my respects. Only a couple of the candles in the shrine were lit, so I decided to do my rock 'n' roll duty by lighting them all. Tip from me: Light the back rows first so you don't burn off your arm hair.

Back at 9 Lives, I caught Asphalt Blaster's set. Despite the heat inside, singer Johnny Colt took the stage in a jacket, hat and scarf. Viale seemed to appreciate Colt's effort -- he was at the front of the stage yelling and cheering the whole time.

Although Asphalt Blaster is known for its superior taste in covers ("Strychnine," "Metal Guru"), I particularly enjoyed the original "Latina Love Machine." An ode to, well, a Latina Love Machine, it includes the lyric, "I like the odds when I bet on brown." UPS should use it in a commercial.

Extra cheese: Continuing the city's tradition of staging standup at bizarre venues (anyone for fart jokes at Eddie's Attic?), Midtown's Twisted Taco now hosts Phat Comedy, a Sunday-night standup show that, last Sunday at least, was a standing-room-only success.

That's not to say the comics were all phunny. They weren't. Most of the comedy was of the stale, "Isn't (fill in the blank) crazy?" variety. I didn't hear any "My family is crazy" on Sunday, but there was: "Bumper stickers are crazy," "Warning labels are crazy," "Atlanta is crazy" and "'Baywatch' is crazy." There was also some, "Here's the difference between men and women." And one guy actually did a Sylvester Stallone impression (hello, 1985!).

One performer, Wes Kenyon, broke the mold a bit. His performance was mostly funny gestures, followed by a puppet show with a knife and fork. Unfortunately, it was over in a flash.

Rocks rock: Although I've been to the Fernbank Museum of Natural History's IMAX theater bunches o' times, until last Sunday I'd never ventured into the actual museum parts. So I did -- and I loved it.

I spent the bulk of my time in the "A Walk Through Time in Georgia" exhibit, which begins with a presentation about the formation of the universe. If you know anyone who doubts the Big Bang Theory, send them to Fernbank; they've got a videotape of it.

After the Big Bang, you wander through wild pre-human Georgia, encountering plants, stuffed foxes and dinosaurs along the way. At one stop, there's a video showing how all of the continents were once connected. When the narrator mentioned that Georgia was once connected to West Africa, someone in the audience muttered, "No wonder." I'm not sure what that meant, really.

My favorite part of the walk was the LED map showing the migration of humans from Africa to Europe, across Asia and then into North America. According to the map, the very last spot on Earth where humans settled was Georgia. When humans arrived in Georgia, they helpfully outlined the state with bright green lights. "A Walk Through Time in Georgia" ends, appropriately enough, with a picture of the clogged Connector and a videotape of Ted Turner talking about the importance of science.

The other exhibit I loved was "Sensing Nature," a collection of optical illusions and sonic gizmos that's everything I wish SciTrek was. By far the coolest part was the pair of Listening Vessels, two concert-shell-like walls that allow you to speak to someone in a soft voice but be heard clearly all the way across the room in the other shell. Projecting profanities across a crowded room has never been so fun, discreet and penalty-free.

Queer as: Last weekend, folk artists and folk-art fans from around the country descended on Gwinnett's folk-art capital, Norcross, for the 10th Anniversary Folk Fest 2003. Bazillions of artists and galleries set up in the North Atlanta Trade Center, displaying folk paintings, sketches, sculptures, knickknacks, etc. For me, the belle of the ball was D.C. artist Matt Sesow, whose expressionism bursts with Bacon-like intensity. His "Uncle Sam Stealing Baby Jesus" is so disturbing that a Capitol Hill gallery recently took it down after numerous complaints.

Just to be clear: When I say Bacon, I'm referring to Francis, not the pork product.



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