When it's time to party 

We will party hard

Rock musician and pro-partying advocate Andrew W.K. took a short break from whatever it is he does in his free time to meet with fans at Criminal Records in Little Five Points last Sunday. He is currently on tour to support of his second full-length CD, The Wolf.

I've been a big fan since seeing his January show at the Masquerade, during which he welcomed just about every audience member onto the stage, and quite a few onto his back. I waited for him to arrive by sitting in the coffee shop next door and reading the Gay Community Yellow Pages. Shortly after giggling at an ad for the Emory Healthcare "Facial Center" and puzzling over why the ad for the Cremation Society of the South features a young couple in a smiling embrace, I noticed Andrew walking up. He looked tired, perhaps from partying hard. But the moment he opened the door at Criminal, his face lit up.

He's been a popular performer for only two years, but he's already legendary among fans and music journalists for his seemingly endless capacity for talking to, and hanging out with, his fans. For the first hour, the autograph line moved at a snail's pace because Andrew didn't so much provide autographs as write long personal messages on every piece of memorabilia presented to him. To a fan who got sick at Andrew's last show, he wrote, "Keep your stomach strong." To the teen who told him that his shows are even better than Green Day's, he said thank you, but "there's no need to play favorites. Like us all." To the people taking his picture, he offered smiles and good photo-composition hints.

When I asked him if the blood on his face on the cover of his first CD was real, he said yes, adding that the inspiration for it was the time he accidentally kicked himself in the face on stage and broke his nose. On my poster, he wrote, "TO: ANDY, THIS IS REALLY GREAT! SO LET'S JUST ENJOY IT AND NOT BE DOWN TURNED!!! YOUR FRIEND, ANDREW W.K."

I'm not certain what "this" or "it" are, but I'm pretty sure he means life.

Oakhurst Festival Latino: Nope, that's not a typo. On Saturday, there was a festival in Decatur's Oakhurst neighborhood celebrating Latino culture. That Oakhurst has a Latino culture to celebrate was, frankly, news to me. It's kind of like finding out that there are Junior League meetings on Metropolitan Parkway.

The festival, which took place in the middle of Oakhurst's commercial district, didn't betray much Latin-ness at first. The only Latin-American-themed booth I saw was tucked between a Howard Dean for President booth ("Necesitamos un Medico en la Casa Blanca") and the High Museum booth. In addition, there was a live band playing Latin music and some young men playing soccer (which, for some reason, foreigners like to call football. Why must those damned foreigners always contradict us?)

After hanging out for a while, though, the deeper Latin-ness of it all became apparent. I found the vendor selling meats Latino-style. Adjacent to the grilling was a small platform featuring Latin dance demonstrations. A woman in a frilly red dress, introduced as Perla Flamenco (real name Julie), put on a super (and duper) flamenco demonstration. After her demo, she brought some onlookers on stage for a brief public lesson. They weren't particularly quick studies, but they deserve credit for courage and curiosity. I wonder if Equifax keeps track of that stuff.

Well do you, punk?: On Saturday night, Mr. Magnificent, the brilliant sidekick on the Lucky Yates Talk Show celebrated his 40th birthday by attempting to draw a 40-paneled comic book autobiography while Lucky interviewed 96 Rock Regular Guy Eric Von Haessler, comedian Slim Chaps (aka Matt Chapman), whose faux-inebriated routine stole the show, and me.

Mr. Magnificent's life story, as told on the page, was one of perseverance and frequent blackouts that followed forced sodomy. One of the panels was titled "Meeting the Pope."

Halitosists: If you've got yerself a hankerin' fer some art but find that the lines for Ansel Adams and the fancy ladies' hats at the High Museum are too darn long for you, I reckon you might wanna mosey on over next door to the Atlanta College of Art's Curiously Strong show, sponsored by Altoids.

What the "Tums Neutralizer of the Week" award was to pro football, the Altoids Curiously Strong Collection is to modern art. This is the fifth year the fresh-breathed folks over at Altoids HQ have assembled and sent out on tour a "curious, strong and original" collection of work from up-and/or-coming artists.

Among the mintiest was Lordy Rodriguez's "Idaho, 2000," a hand-drawn fictional map on which Nebraska borders North Carolina and Idaho has a long coastline. With our national geography skills as bad as they are, I wonder how many people even realized it was fiction.

Tied for "most curious" in my opinion were Natalia Benedetti's "An Immaculate Murder" and Jen Kim's "Series K." "An Immaculate Murder" is an extreme video close-up of a house cat accompanied by looped audio of two men discussing murder. "Series K" is three pieces of ruled paper cut into tiny squares the size of a single printed letter on this very page -- and then reassembled so perfectly you have to look closely to see that they were cut in the first place. Curiously obsessive-compulsive.

Correction: A couple of weeks ago, I mistakenly attributed authorship of the literary classic Under The Bleachers to I.P. Freely. It is, in fact, the work of Seymour Butz. My apologies to both.




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