Nevertheless, Atlantans love them some Pink Pig -- more than they love any pig that isn't cured and spiral cut. City Council Prez Cathy Woolard and Mayor Shirley Franklin: If you're reading this, I'm pretty sure you could have the entire Beltline transit system up and running within two years if you promised to affix fiberglass pig heads to the front of the cars.
In case you haven't heard all the squealing, the Rich's-Macy's Pink Pig is a miniature train ride that used to be part of downtown's Rich's Christmas celebration, back in the days when downtowns had department stores. To the delight of Atlanta natives who fondly remember the original, an updated version is now doing laps in a tent in the parking lot outside Rich's-Macy's at Lenox Square. For $3, riders can hop onto Priscilla (that's the pig train's name) and take two laps around an enchanted winterized tent-land filled with gum-pink Christmas trees and dancing pigs baking holiday treats. There's also a polar bear wearing a scarf. After the ride, bar-b-commuters are invited to stop at the gift shop, where pig neckties, T-shirts and stuffed animals are available for purchase.
Pre-cynical children and nostalgic parents seemed to enjoy the ride the most. Older kids were less enthused. Last Sunday, I saw a 10-ish-year-old boy repeatedly offering his parents a frowning thumbs down from the train. After he disembarked, I asked him what he thought, and he said he'd have preferred a scarier ride. I regret not being quick-witted enough to have directed him to the MARTA station.
Octunes: I enjoy making deep and meaningless proclamations to myself while I'm driving around. Last week, one of my self-proclamations was that Northside Tavern is the best bar in Atlanta. As I recall, my silent committee-of-one selected it for successfully balancing "cool" with "not overly aware of its coolness," along with "close to my house and even closer to my girlfriend's house." I figured that if it's gonna be my favorite bar, I have to go more often than once every three years, so I made a point of going last Saturday night. Lucky for me the magnificently pompadoured Johnny Knox and Hi-Test were on stage when I walked in.
For a cover charge equal to four-and-two-thirds laps on the Pink Pig, the band played three sets of superb rockabilly and roots music. (And if you're nice, they might give you a comb embossed with their name.) JK&HT played some Elvis ("If you don't think Elvis is No. 1, you're full of No. 2!"), some Blasters, some songs about killing people, and a selection from that country favorite, Shel Silverstein. I'm serious. When he wasn't busy writing "A Light in the Attic" or "A Giraffe and a Half," Silverstein found the time to write two of Johnny Cash's most famous songs. "25 Minutes to Go," (which JK&HT covered) and "A Boy Named Sue" are both Silverstein compositions.
Between sets, I had an opportunity to talk gasoline with two band members. Guitarist/saxophonista Michael Tew confirmed my suspicions about kids these days when he told me that most people haven't a clue what Hi-Test is. From there, the conversation devolved into a contest to see who had the most embarrassing fuel-related story. Johnny's story about pumping diesel fuel into a non-diesel car on his way to a valet-parked wedding reception was the easy winner.
Nutty cluster: In an effort to save money by buying wine in bulk, several of the galleries in Buckhead's Tula Art Center on Bennett Street held simultaneous openings Friday night. Overall, I thought it was pretty hit-and-miss -- mostly miss. At the Atlanta Photography Group Gallery, I particularly enjoyed Demetri Papacharalampos' "Solar Flare" -- a close-up of a sunflower that revealed how its petals closely mimic explosions on the sun's surface (as seen in science documentaries). Very witty. The rest of work there kept making me think of the kid with the video camera from American Beauty.
Another collection I liked was Maggie Hasbrouck upstairs in the Lowe Gallery (like the High, except Lowe). Her stuff is the busier, photo-derived cousin of Tony Hernandez's work. They both use enormous canvases with smallish solitary figures in the center. Hernandez's figures often seem lonely though, whereas Hasbrouck's tend toward weird. Hernandez also did an album cover for Train -- really, the best reason to buy one of their records.
(GARI)FUN(A): The Garifuna people descend from stolen Africans who escaped slave ships near St. Vincent in 1665. Their journey eventually landed them in Belize and Honduras, where they now comprise the largest African-descended population in Central America.
On Saturday, the Atlanta Garifuna Association held its fifth annual Garifuna Cultural Day Program at the Decatur Public Library. The event marked the anniversary of the Garifuna's arrival on the Central American mainland, and included great music (songs and drumming) and the declaration that I, Andisheh Nouraee, am an honorary Garifuna. (I assume that means free parking next time I'm in coastal Belize.)
One of the most interesting Garifuna traits is the outfits they wore for their ceremonial dances. They include either knee socks or steel-shanked wading boots, perhaps a symbolic nod to their island-hopping, body-of-water-jumping past. Also very interesting (but not Garifuna) was a napping cross-dresser in the audience wearing a blond wig, bone necklace and a grass skirt. It was the same guy I saw wearing a "Party Princess" headband at Stone Mountain's Yellow Daisy Festival in September. I would have asked his name but, like I said, he was napping.
Wait did did you get the Christmas gifts or not yet? Writing about gun control…
Funny and interesting. Thanks.
"Stadium Love" - Metric
Ben Palmer is a funny dude. I'm saving up to buy his book someday.
Some call it poverty - others call it a simpler life.