Kobe Bryant arrested 

Plus: small men telling big lies

I thought that The Kobe Bryant Project was gonna be the last item in my column, but when I woke up Monday morning and saw his name in the news, I figured that I'd do like so many other journalists and exploit his trouble for personal gain by putting it where it would attract the most attention to my column.

The Kobe Bryant Project at Dad's Garage is an improvised play with a Heaven Can Wait (the one from the 1970s, not the 1940s)-type plot. Conceived and directed by Dad's regular Christian Danley, the play imagines the Lakers star getting a second chance at life after suffering a fatal heart attack on the court. In exchange for a second chance at life, Bryant is ordered by the Big Man (either God or David Stern, I'm not sure) to help a dorky high school kid become cool.

Even though the plot is obvious, it's still wonderfully enjoyable. The cast is superb. Tim Stoltenberg as the dorky kid was likeable, and most importantly, understated -- two qualities one seldom finds in the post-Urkel fictional nerd. Another highlight was the school's bearded bully, played by MC Chris Ward, in ripped denim and an Andrew W.K. T-shirt. Declaring his cool kid motto ("We fuck! We do drugs! We set things on fire!") or barking out ridiculous insults at women ("You got a cock!"), he nearly stole every scene he was in.

Since the play's dialogue is improvised, performances between now and closing (July 26) will almost certainly be influenced by the real-life drama and media circus resulting from Bryant's recent arrest on sexual assault charges. Let's hope for something tasteless.

Go back to Russia: Wise men that they were, the Founding Fathers rigged things so that Independence Day would fall on a Friday this year. The result -- we could all get patriotically hammered without having to go to work the next day with our patriotic hangovers.

I conducted my 80-proof salute to freedom at the VIP tent at Lenox Square, the Club One-Tweezy of patriotism. Gov. Sonny Perdue was there meeting and greeting people while wearing a really unattractive tie. I only mention the tie because four different people said to me, "Did you see his tie?" On a positive note though, I didn't once see or hear the governor pander to racists while he was there. Good for you, Sonny.

The event's lowlight was definitely the celebratory low fly-over by a passenger jet. I have a boyish fascination with aircraft, seeing a low-flying passenger jet circling overhead is way more "Oh, shit!" than it is "Oh, cool!"

The fireworks were great as usual. I don't remember if they did it last year, but this year I noticed that they tried to make the fireworks match the songs. For example, blue fireworks were accompanied by "Rhapsody In Blue." Star-shaped fireworks were accompanied by "When You Wish Upon A Star." Also, note to fireworks people, Springsteen's "Born In the U.S.A." is not a feel-good, patriotic anthem.

The most upsetting thing to me about the Fourth in general is that it has become all about honoring the military, practically to the exclusion of everything else. There's nothing wrong with honoring people who've served in the military on the Fourth (although they've already got Veterans Day and Memorial Day), but the military should not be the main focus of Independence Day.

On Sunday, the Atlanta History Center got Independence Day Celebration right with their salute to women's suffrage. The centerpiece was a brilliant, costumed re-enactment of a suffrage speech delivered by Laura Mina (who doesn't get much of a vote concerning her hourly wages at CL). She assembled the speech from pieces of several 19th-century speeches about allowing women their right to vote. Her speech was introduced by another performer, Ken Johnston, who railed against the Republicans controlling White House and Congress. He was playing the part of a Southern man immediately after the Civil War, but the rant mostly still applies.

Rock 'n' roll half-night: Mini-Kiss, an all-dwarf Kiss cover band, performed at The Chamber last Thursday. Among my friends and acquaintances, it was easily the most anticipated rock show (as judged by the number of e-mails I received about it) since Radiohead's 2001 show at Stone Mountain. Unfortunately, the band took a nearly foolproof entertainment concept and pretty much blew it.

The biggest little problem was that they're not a cover band, even though they were clearly advertised as such. They don't play instruments. In fact, they don't even have instruments. Minis Paul, Gene and Ace each "played" cardboard cutouts of guitars. Mini Peter had a real mini drum kit, but like the others, he only pretended to play. The music and some of the vocals came from a tape. The band's performance consisted of mimicking Kiss' moves while Mini Paul sang along to the tapes (quite badly). To make matters worse, tickets were $15 -- a high ticket price to see a cover band, but Yellow Brick Highway robbery to see what one angry audience member described bitterly and accurately as, "midgets dressed for Halloween doing karaoke."




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