Footloose, kick off your Chung Shi shoes 

Scene & Herd

As a rule, the grand opening of a Foot Solutions shoe store in a suburban strip mall is not the sort of event that shows up in the entertainment and nightlife columns of self-described hip alternative weeklies. The two probable exceptions to that rule are:

A) You're the Sunday Paper's entertainment writer, Caren West, and the shoe store is actually one of your PR firm's clients.

B) You're me and you derive pleasure by wringing entertainment from the least obvious sources.

Alas, Foot Solutions is not one of West's clients, so you're stuck with me.

A little background. Foot Solutions is an Atlanta-based retailer that sells expertly fit shoes designed to alleviate and prevent foot problems. The company has more than 180 stores, but the store that just opened in East Point's Camp Creek Marketplace is the first in the chain to be in a predominantly African-American neighborhood.

The thing that drew me to the opening was the press release announcing it. Congressman John Lewis was listed as one of the many ribbon-cutting ceremony dignitaries. Hearing Lewis' booming, authoritative voice waxing poetic about, of all things, a shoe store opening was too big an opportunity to pass up. I thought it'd be like that time Jesse Jackson read aloud from Green Eggs and Ham on "Saturday Night Live."

When I showed up around 11 a.m., none of the advertised dignitaries had arrived, but Foot Solutions founder and CEO Raymond Margiano was there. He gave me a mini-tour, and showed me a German-designed pilates-ish shoe called the Chung Shi. "It's all the rage in Europe," he assured me.

Soon, some of the dignitaries arrived and he gave them the same tour. When Margiano showed the Chung Shi to the Rev. Gerald Durley of Providence Missionary Baptist Church, Durley seemed impressed, but he said that he would stick with the pair of MBT-brand shoes he'd already purchased at Foot Solutions. MBT stands for Masai Barefoot Technologies. "I've got to stay with the brothers," Durley said.

At around 11:30 a.m., Lewis still hadn't shown up, but with a couple of members of the press on hand and a small crowd gathered, organizers decided to go ahead with the ceremony. Concerned Black Clergy President the Rev. Darrell Elligan opened the ceremony with a prayer. He asked God to bless the building, bless the shoe store within the building, and to "comfort customers" and "heal their entire body through strengthening and comforting their feet."

Margiano spoke, mentioning how Foot Solutions had fitting booths at both the Emmys and the Oscars, adding that if Foot Solutions products are good enough for the cast of "Lost," then they're good enough for the rest of us. Can't argue with that.

The award for the strangest comment of the morning definitely goes to East Point Mayor Joe Macon. While understandably proud that East Point's retail amenities are improving and that his city is the home of the first Foot Solutions store in an African-American neighborhood, he took it all a bit far when he declared that, with the opening of the Foot Solutions store, "We probably become the best city in all of Georgia!" Take that, Atlanta!

A Side of Laughter: Enter the Roswell Road Landmark Diner via the side door and you'll find a lounge called, appropriately enough, the Sidedoor Lounge. Sidedoor Lounge is a small, old-fashioned nightclub-type joint that, among other things, hosts comedy shows.

Like it does on many Friday nights, last Friday Sidedoor hosted a show by several local comedians. Six performers took the mic. As you probably gathered from the first half of this column, I have somewhat peculiar taste in comedy. Keep that in mind as I tell you that Friday's performances, by and large, were not my cup of tea. There was a lot of stuff that I enjoyed, such as Shawn Lesser's observation that circumcision proves that Jews are great salesmen. Paraphrased punch line: In a country obsessed with making it bigger, Jews have sold millions on the idea of cutting off a piece. One of my biggest laughs of the evening followed Tanner Inman's joke/question, "Do you know what's cheesy about '80s rocker Eddie Money?" The answer, "Nothing," is delivered deadpan, while glaring at the audience.

The headliner and by far the best act of the night was Jerry Farber. Farber is a throwback to borscht belt comedians of old. His specialty is adult humor that never really gets filthy dirty. Where other comics would go for shock value, he pulls laughs with the rhythm of his delivery. "I pulled a groin muscle. (Pause.) It wasn't mine." Joking about how age has tired him out, he remarked, "I was lying on sofa the other night and my wife asked, 'Do you wanna go upstairs and make love?' (Pause.) I can't do both."

Sabado not-so gigante: The busiest evening of my week was Saturday. At around 7, I stopped by Eyedrum for the opening reception of the George and Helen Spelvin Folk Art Collection show. The funniest part to me is the mural of an ice cave by an "artist" named "Golden Blizzard." With its depiction of Jesus on a snowboard fighting fascist polar bears with flying heart- and sperm-shaped beams, I assumed it was spoofing the liberal use of weird Jesuses in Southern folk art. I laughed about it with a couple of friends, but after I turned in a draft of this column, my editor told me that it wasn't actually part of the folk art show. Maybe not, but it should be.

In the side gallery by the front door, there's a collection called "Mandalas" credited to an artist named Nick Nelson. I assumed that was part of the spoof show, too (Nelson's Mandalas, get it?), but now I'm not so sure.

After Nelson's "Mandalas," I headed over to Smith's Olde Bar for alcohol and music courtesy of Atlanta's the Sundogs. The Sundogs look like frat boys but sound like they come from the backwoods. Imagine a hybrid of the Band and the Black Crowes, with a tendency to go on and on like a jam band. And for what it's worth, my girlfriend and two other people she was talking to in the crowd think that they're the handsomest group they've seen awhile.

For more on Andisheh's outings, visit andy2000.org.

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