Between live performances, much of the music was provided by DJ Gnosis (real name John Robinson). The highlight to me was how he seamlessly and quite appropriately fit the Jam's classic "Start" into a dance music set. Maybe it wasn't appropriate. Maybe I just love the Jam a lot. I don't know. Whatever it was, though, it sounded great to me.
I wouldn't call it a musical highlight, but the snapshot of the party that will probably haunt me for years was the guy who rapped wrapped. He stood on the stage and rapped while his head was covered and sealed with plastic wrap. He must have had breathing holes because he had it on long enough that he could have croaked otherwise.
The party's most exciting feature, one that all club gatherings should emulate, was its kissing booth. For a dollar, a beautiful person would kiss you on the cheek or lips. According to the kissers, neither halitosis nor pushy tongues caused any problem, although I imagine that by last call the situation may have changed. I got a kiss on the cheek from Tom Delaney. He's a really nice guy, so I paid $2 for it.
L'il Arbor: Volunteers from Trees Atlanta swooped into Southwest Atlanta's Capitol View neighborhood last Saturday morning and, along with residents, planted trees along the 'hood's main drag, Dill Avenue. The planting was preceded by a driveway breakfast party where volunteers got to mingle a bit before working. One of the neighborhood kids drinking coffee at the gathering boasted, to no one in particular, that coffee was stunting his growth.
The planting was a great "can't we all just get along" moment. Dill's drug dealers stood by quietly and calmly as the volunteers planted trees along the same sidewalks the entrepreneurs were working. In retrospect, I think the drug dealers should have helped. After all, when the new trees bloom, it's the street-side drug dealers who'll benefit most from the shade they give.
Gwinnoters is the Gwinnett County chapter of the North Georgia Foothills Dulcimers Association. They were nice enough to welcome me to their meeting at the Gwinnett History Museum in downtown Lawrenceville last Sunday afternoon. The meeting is an opportunity for players of the stringed instrument to indulge in their passion. Fourteen people were at Sunday's meeting.
The class divided into beginning and advanced groups. I stayed with the advanced group partly because I wanted to hear the best players and partly because I was too lazy to get up and follow the beginners to the other room. The session began with the players sharing a tune they've been working on. All of the players were fun to listen to, but none more than Rachel, a young woman who not only played, but sang a folk ballad called "Song of Lies" in a lovely, high, pure voice. Although just a casual performance, it was very moving nonetheless.
I'm going through one of my periodic phases when I'm sick of rock posing and am enjoying the more pure emotion of folk and the musicality of great jazz singers. I suspect it'll last until the next great rock show I see.
My Dixie Wrecked: I had a conversation a few weeks ago during which me and my conversation-mate were trying to figure out what people thought of when they heard "Atlanta" before the city became known for hip-hop and R&B. There's the airport, of course, which, thanks to Delta and its hub-and-spoke routing system, is the sole memory of Atlanta held by tens of millions around the world. There's also Underground Atlanta, a spot that an alarming number of non-Atlantans know about, even though it has nothing to offer visitors except the only fresh fudge this side of Dahlonega and "Black By Popular Demand" T-shirts.
Considering that Gone With The Wind is one of the best-selling books and most popular films ever, and Stone Mountain Park, with its Confederate carving, is the most popular tourist attraction in the state, the best I could figure is that Atlanta's pre-hip-hop claim to cultural fame was its pre-eminent oversized, over-the-top Civil War tributes.
It's only appropriate then that Scene & Herd, a newspaper column that's supposedly about Atlanta culture, pay tribute to the city's oldest oversized, over-the-top Civil War tribute: Atlanta Cyclorama.
Atlanta Cyclorama is a 42-foot high, 358-foot circumference circular painting depicting the Battle of Atlanta. It's on display at a museum in Grant Park. Viewers sit in the circular theater surrounded by the painting. The theater slowly revolves as the recorded narration explains what the painting is depicting. The painting was commissioned in 1883 by Gen. John Logan. He was running for vice president of the country. He fought in the Battle of Atlanta and sought to use the painting as a way to tout his heroism to voters.
Hmmm. Maybe Wesley Clark should commission a Kosovo Cyclorama.
Logan actually died before the Cyclorama was finished (by German artists living in Milwaukee). The painting made its way to Atlanta in 1892 and into its current home in 1921. The Cyclorama's emotional value has been diluted by the goofy diorama constructed in front of it during the 1930s. The diorama pieces look like they belong to a giant Lionel train set. Included among them is a figure depicting a dead Clark Gable. The painting itself still has resonance, though, in part because, unlike Stone Mountain's carving, it depicts realistic misery, mayhem and bloodletting alongside the posed heroism. It's also interesting to look at spots on the painting such as Decatur or East Atlanta (known back in the day as Leggett's Hill) and imagine it as the location of a battle rather than merely a battle of the bands.
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