Part one was pretty easy. As luck would have it, one of the first people I spoke to was a gentleman from Boca Raton, Fla., named Louis Kaplan who has been collecting and repairing pens since the 1950s. With little prompting, Kaplan gave me a class on pens in the 20th century. I learned that the quest to find the perfect material from which to mold pen bodies led to many disasters, including a pen that blew up if exposed to a flame and another that dissolved if it got wet. He had examples of both.
After picking Kaplan's brain, I wandered over to a local pen dealer named Michael Masuyama. Masuyama showed me the Japanese-made Sailor-brand pen. Sailor pens are known for their "crazy" (his description) nibs. A nib is the point of the pen that touches the paper. My favorite Sailor is the shiny black model known simply as "The King of Pen." It even comes in a box that says "The King of Pen."
Masuyama had no pen jokes. He suggested that I ask Roger Cromwell of San Leandro, Calif.'s Penopoly store for a joke. Cromwell didn't have a pen joke, but he had lots of pen stories. Cromwell is a legend in the pen world (if you don't believe me, check Google) for having located tens of thousands of dollars worth of Parker replacement parts and rare prototypes at a garage sale where he stopped only because his car overheated.
Even though Cromwell didn't have a pen joke to share, he did tell me that he has a celebrity client who drives him to Beverly Hills to clean a multimillion-dollar pen collection. He is contractually bound to keep the person's name secret.
For a joke, he suggested I return to where I started. Not the womb, but rather Louis Kaplan's table. Louis' son Howard is well known for his in-depth knowledge of pen culture. So I asked him for a pen joke. He paused for a couple of seconds and said, "Two pen collectors were stranded on a desert island. Both of them made money."
Krylon time: On Saturday night, Defoor Centre hosted a music and art show called Collective Arts from the Streetz. The music and art were very interesting. I particularly liked a painting called "Pintura Blanca" by an artist named Shie. It was like a Rohrshach test designed by a fantasy comic book author.
Unfortunately, the evening's mood was screwed up -- for me, anyway -- by a bunch of obnoxious, possibly drunk people. One woman, who acted like she knew me, came up and chastised me about not returning her calls. After a couple of minutes, she figured out that she thought she was talking to CL's Nikhil Swaminathan -- a mistake she seemed to put down to our weird names. All us foreign-types are alike, I suppose.
Then a drunken/drugged idiot started breakdancing with a bicycle lock in hand. While spinning on the floor, he hit my shin with his lock. I was so annoyed that I almost started punching him, something I haven't done since I was 12. He slurred an apology, though, and I cooled off. It's a good thing, too. It's probably not a good idea to pick a fight with a guy carrying a U-lock.
Jive turkey: Anatolia is the Asian part of Turkey. Delicious!
No, you misunderstand. Anatolia is another name for Asia Minor, the peninsula on which the bulk of the Republic of Turkey now sits. On Sunday evening, the Fellowship Council and members of the Kurdish/Turkish community in Atlanta put on "An Evening of Anatolian Food and Culture" (that's fancy talk for "party") in the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta's building along I-85 just south of Clairmont Road. I went intending to eat, but the food line contained the entire population of Anatolia, all in front of me. With no chance of getting my hands on eggplant salad, hummus, or an item intriguingly described on the menu as simply "Hot Paste," I ducked into the auditorium to catch some nonedible culture.
Three men, all playing lutelike stringed instruments, acted as the show's house band. Except for a moment when the bandleader stopped the music to read off some license plate numbers ("Please go to the parking lot, there's something going on outside"), it was very festive. People were literally dancing down the aisles.
During a short break by the band, a troupe of Indian dancers performed. The troupe's leader explained that Indian farmers celebrating a good harvest have done the dance for centuries. He also noted that by Indian he meant "Asian Indian, not American Indian." Thanks.
What could be more unexpected than an Indian dance troupe at an Anatolian festival? How about an Indian dance troupe at an Anatolian festival whose best dancer is Malaysian? I kid you not. Or how about Indian farmers dancing like they're in boy bands? I'm totally serious -- it all bore a striking resemblance to modern-day boy-band dance moves. So it turns out that the Backstreet Boys aren't just talentless automatons who separate hormonal girls from their allowances. They're also cultural anthropologists. Who knew?
Baby not on board: Atlanta No Kidding is a social club comprised of childless individuals who like to hang out and chat. I attended the group dinner Saturday night at Five Seasons Brewery on Roswell Road. Even though I'm childless (to the best of my knowledge, anyway), I wasn't sure how I'd fit in. I like kids. It turns out that No Kidding's members don't have anything against children. What bonds them is that they're intelligent, outgoing 30- to 45-year-olds who are sick of hanging out with people with kids. Said one, "I don't wanna hear about your kid's bowel movements or Little League practice." I immediately thought of the "Diarrhea Song" ("When you're sliding into first ...") but fortunately didn't blurt it out. I'm pretty sure that I would have been asked to leave.
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