While many of you battled traffic to get to the beach, searched desperately for a spot to watch a fireworks display, or pushed your way into Turner Field to see the Braves lose during the holiday weekend, I -- joined by a few friends -- celebrated my independence with a few days of camping at a near-secret spot in North Georgia. Hanging out in the wilderness, I soon fell into a comfortable routine: Drink, eat meat, jump in the river, drip dry and repeat.
Once I finally made it back to civilization, I decided to mount a quest to find a better chopped pork sandwich than Daddy D'z in Atlanta, and better ribs than Gourmet Rib in Savannah. My quest led me to Jordan's Bar-B-Que in Carrollton. Traditionally, faux-country shacks like Jordan's cover their walls with old tools and farm implements. I guess patrons are supposed to think, "Gee, look at all the tools they used on the farm where they raised this pig I'm about to eat. They must serve some fresh food here!" rather than "Crap, I wonder what yard sale they found all this junk?"
Jordan's offers the typical Southern sides: fries, beans‚ corn bread, potato salad and such. But I came to taste the main dishes, so I ordered the ribs and Brunswick stew combo. The ribs are smoked with little or no sauce, allowing the meat to speak for itself. They were not the most tender, juicy or flavorful I've ever eaten, but they tasted decent. Jordan's serves the sauce on the side and I found it a bit thin for my tastes; it didn't have a lot of flavor, either, just a sweet and tangy afterthought. The stew wasn't bad but lacked zing. Not worth the trek all the way out to Carrollton, but worthwhile if you're already out there and hungry.
My quest continued closer to home at Harold's Barbecue just south of the Ted. The joint has been open for almost 60 years. Judging by the autographed 8-by-10s on the wall, the lunch counter and red-and-white-checkered tablecloths have played host to some of the city's biggest names. There's an open grill, complete with smoldering coals, right behind the bar. Here, they toast Colonial white bread and top it with chopped pork and a couple of pickles -- about as minimalist as you can get without having to gnaw it directly off the bone. The pork is smoked first, then chopped, so it doesn't get much of the smoky flavor. It's more like roast pork than barbecue. Not bad, just not what I prefer. I think the place survives on tradition, a friendly staff, and associations with notables like Lewis Grizzard and a governor or three more so than the food itself. Ah, well. The quest continues!
Saturday evening, I braved the currently mangled streets of Cabbagetown to get to YoYo Boutique and Gallery for an art show opening titled Doble Filo. It displays a few acrylic paintings, pen-and-ink drawings and other artistic efforts done by tattoo artists. Some of the works show a strong tattoo influence, while others show no connection to body art. Like any opening, the patrons preferred to stand around socializing rather than spend a lot of time considering the works. But this was no wine-and-cheese affair. Everyone mingled outside on the sidewalk with PBRs in hand, even when the band, Celephais, cranked out some rolling hard rock. But with YoYo's small space, there is only so much art it can display, so by the time folks wandered through to get a beer, they'd pretty much seen everything.
My favorite work is a mixed media piece by Demian Bouchon of local shop Liberty Tattoo. "Untitled" is a translucent piece of white plastic with a Rebel flag barely discernible in gray tones in the background behind a black skyline of Atlanta. An old steam locomotive and a modern diesel train are in the foreground, and spray-painted in red across the whole thing is the word "SOUTHERN." Like any work of art, it is open to interpretation, but to me it says, "Hell, yeah, by God!" ... albeit sarcastically. The show continues through Aug. 8. If you're in Cabbagetown, check it out.
Speaking of skin and art, Jungle (formerly the Chamber) hosted the Skin Two USA pre-party, an event celebrating fetish fashion. And no, I'm not referring to your own personal fetish; this event is all about vinyl, latex, rubber and leather stuff. If you thought the goth-vampires-in-bondage-dancing-
until-dawn-to-the-redundant-rhythms-of-tech scene was dead and buried, you're right. But that just means the scene has gone underground again. And thanks to the momentary mainstream fad back in the '90s, there is now more gear to chose from than ever. The only people in the room that really looked like freaks were the two or three guys wandering around in khakis. The outfits were shocking and freaky some 30 years ago, but now this stuff just seems sticky and sweaty. It's not "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro," as Hunter Thompson wrote. It's "When the going gets weird, the pros turn weird and sell it to the rest of us." There were exhibitions of bondage, like the lady encased in latex with a ball gag in her mouth; sadomasochism, like the man tied to a cross and whipped; and extreme piercing, like the guy swinging from the ceiling suspended by meat hooks through the skin of his shoulders. But the only time I was shocked was when the bartender charged me $4 for a bottle of water. But I'm jaded. And cheap.
The party lasted well into the night, and the after-parties might still be going as you read this. Some folks just don't know when to quit!
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